Amid heightening sanctions from the West, Russia is looking at accepting Bitcoin as payment for its energy exports. Pavel Zavalny, the chairman of Russia’s State Duma Committee on Energy, at a press conference this week said the West would either need to pay for oil using rubles or gold. And “friendly countries” like Turkey and China can pay through their native currencies or rubles, as well as in Bitcoins.
Zavalny revealed that representatives from China and Turkey have been in discussions with the Kremlin about changes to preferred settlement currencies for its biggest export. The chairman said Russia has been proposing to China, for quite some time, to switch to settlements in national currencies of rubles and yuan. It will be in lira and rubles with Turkey. He said Moscow is also open to Bitcoins. But Jonathan Levin, the co-founder of Chainalysis, said there is no evidence of Russia or President Putin systematically using digital assets to evade sanctions.
In regards to the West, Zavalny said the “unfriendly countries” could pay for Russia’s oil in gold or rubles. It is unclear whether Russia will change the terms of existing contracts with countries that pay in US dollars and Euro. Ever since the Ukraine invasion, the Kremlin has been exploring ways to circumvent international economic sanctions. SWIFT has removed Russian banks from its system. The West governments have stopped businesses from dealing with Russia, excluding oil and gas trade.
Oil and gas are seen as Russia’s most important commodities. It is an important energy source in Europe – the region gets 40% of gas from Russia, about 200 to 800 million euros per day.