Russia makes payments on two external bonds

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Russia makes payments on two external bonds

Russia initiated payment on two of its external bonds on Friday in an effort to stave off a looming sovereign default ahead of a key U.S. licence that will allow such transfers to expire next week.

The finance ministry said it had $71.25 million on coupon payout for dollar-denominated Eurobonds maturing in 2026 and 26.5 million euros $28 million on paper due in 2036.

Russia has faced the possibility of a sovereign default since Western capitals imposed sweeping sanctions in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and Moscow introducing counter-measures. The country has been so badly damaged by the global financial fabric.

The two payments were due on May 27 but Russia is relying on a license from the U.S. Treasury to be able to transfer the money to international bond holders - a key part of avoiding a sovereign default. That license runs out on May 25.

Russia's national settlement depository received the funds it channelled, according to the finance ministry.

It was not clear whether the depository would be able to reach foreign holders of Russian Eurobonds.

JPMorgan, which was previously acted as a correspondence bank on such payments, did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said Moscow would service its external debt obligations in roubles if the United States blocks other options and would not call itself in default as it had the means to pay.

Russia has been able to make payments on seven bonds since its invasion of Ukraine before the latest interest payments, despite the plethora of curbs.

Russia has some $40 billion of international bonds outstanding, about half of which are held by foreign investors. It has no more than $2 billion in payments related to its hard-currency bonds due to the end of the year.