Russian Energy Director Pavel Zavalny has launched the possibility of accepting bitcoins as payment for oil and gas from “friendly countries” such as China and Turkey.
He said those countries could start paying for energy in Russian rubles, Chinese yuan and Turkish lira, or even bitcoin (BTC), instead of US dollars by the international standard.
According to the Russian media RBC, the head of the State Duma Energy Committee, Zavalny, said at a press conference on Thursday that he had discussed with representatives of China and Turkey changes in the settlement currencies preferred by the largest exporters.
“We have long proposed to China to switch to payments in national currencies, rubles and yuan. With Turkey, it will be the lira and the ruble. The set of currencies may be different, and this is normal practice. If it is bitcoin, then we will trade bitcoin.”
He further stated that “unfriendly countries” could pay for their oil in rubles or gold. However, it is not clear whether Russia can change the terms of existing contracts with countries that pay in euros or US dollars.
Russia is exploring ways to circumvent international economic sanctions imposed for invading Ukraine. Russian banks have been removed from the SWIFT system to prevent them from making cross-border payments, and most companies are also banned from trading with Russia, with the exception of oil and gas trading.
Energy is Russia’s most important export commodity, the main source of energy in Europe and other countries, which is difficult to replace. In 2021, Russia’s oil and gas trade generated $119 billion in revenue, according to Reuters.
Including electricity, kerosene, coal and natural gas, energy trade accounted for 53.8% of Russia’s total exports of $388.4 billion in 2021, according to Russia Prevening.
The cryptocurrency market seems to have reacted positively to the news of the expansion of the international use case for BTC. Bitcoin is up 2.5% over the last day and is currently nearing 30-day highs, trading at $43,917, according to CoinGecko.
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Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, the world’s largest asset manager, can see his prediction for a new digital payment system in front of his eyes. On Thursday, Fink wrote in a letter to shareholders that global political instability could pave the way for countries to use digital currencies as a tool for international settlements.