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US uses dollar to wage economic, political war, says Putin

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
File photo by Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin says the United States is using the dollar as an instrument to wage economic and political war.

Speaking at an annual economic forum in St Petersburg, Putin said Moscow is pondering to settle its oil and gas transactions in other national currencies.

He said if Russian oil companies stop using the American currency, it will pose a serious blow to the US dollar.

Washington, Putin said, is openly engaged in efforts to hold back Russia’s development by wielding the dollar as a tool in economic and political competition.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak on Thursday said the oil and gas-rich country may soon move away from dollar-denominated crude contracts if President Joe Biden’s administration continues to impose targeted economic sanctions.

His comments came shortly after Russia announced it would completely remove US dollar assets from its National Wealth Fund. 

Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at the St Petersburg event Thursday that the changes could be expected within a month. The National Wealth Fund, he said, will shift its dollar holdings into euros, yuan and gold.

The transfer, which affects about $119 billion in liquid assets of which about a third is held in dollars, will take place within the central bank’s huge reserves.  

The move comes ahead of a summit between President Putin and US President Joe Biden later this month.

'US ransomware claims a ploy'

Putin also on Friday described US suggestions linking Moscow to high profile cyberattacks in the United States as absurd and a bid to incite apprehension ahead of his summit with Biden.

"It's just nonsense, it's funny," Putin said during an interview with Russia’s TV Channel One following reports of a hack of Brazilian meatpacker JBS's facilities in the United States.

"It's absurd to accuse Russia of this," Putin said, noting he was encouraged by efforts by other people in the US questioning the substance of such allegations.

"Thank goodness there are people with common sense who are asking this question and are putting the question to those who are trying to provoke a new conflict before our meeting with Biden," he said.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned on Friday against any exaggerated expectations from the upcoming meeting between Putin and Biden, stressing that there is a lot of dispute between the two sides over a range of issues.

"This is indeed a very important meeting. At the same time, it would be wrong to have inflated expectations", he said, adding that the two countries disagree on so many things that one cannot expect any progress in reaching an understanding.

"The potential for our disagreements and even some conflicting moments in our bilateral relations is so tremendous that one cannot expect any progress in reaching an understanding. However, sometimes agreeing that we do not agree is useful too," Peskov added.

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