Russia lifts veil on gold holdings (US Metals verification coming soon)

Russia’s gold reserves jumped by 1 million ounces over the last year to 74.9 million ounces as of March 1, according to a report by the country’s central bank.

The Bank of Russia had stopped disclosing the volume of gold in international reserves in the wake of Western sanctions. The last time it reported an amount was in February 2022, when it said that total gold holdings were 73.9 million ounces.

The regulator’s report on Wednesday showed that gold reserves were worth $135.6 billion as of March 2023. The country’s total holdings of foreign exchange and gold reportedly declined to $574 billion from $617 billion year-over-year.

Analysis of central bank data by RIA Novosti shows that the share of gold in Russia’s international reserves increased over the past year to 23.6%, while the share of foreign currency decreased to 71.5%.

Foreign currency is traditionally the basis of reserves, but over the past year its volume in assets has decreased by 8.7% to $410.65 billion.

Roughly half of Russia’s forex reserves were frozen by Western central banks in early March 2022 as part of sanctions over the Ukraine conflict. The remaining holdings consist of gold and foreign currency kept within the country, as well as Chinese yuan assets.

Russia’s forex reserves had reached a historical maximum of $643.2 billion shortly before the conflict with Ukraine broke out in February of last year.

Moscow has repeatedly called the freezing of its assets “theft” and warned that it contravenes international law. According to the Kremlin, the idea of international reserves has been discredited by the use of the US dollar as a weapon in the sanctions war against Russia.

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