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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Medvedev, Kudrin Don't Differ On Dollar

President Dmitry Medvedev and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin differ in recent comments on the dollar's strength and value as a reserve currency in terms of time frame, not substance, analysts said.

Kudrin said on June 13 that it was "still early to speak of other reserve currencies" and that the dollar's "fundamental indicators" were "fine." A week earlier, Medvedev said the dollar wasn't in "a spectacular position" and questioned its future as a global reserve currency.

Medvedev has called repeatedly for the introduction of regional reserve currencies, including the ruble, and a supranational currency to stabilize the global economy by reducing its reliance on the dollar. Kudrin backed this long-term goal while saying "it would be difficult to say that we expect significant changes in the next few years."

Russia's use of the dollar as a reserve currency in the long term "depends on the results of the world crisis," Kudrin said.

"They want Russia to play a greater role, if not in the global economy then in the regional economy, meaning the post-Soviet universe," said Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at UralSib. "There is more politics in these statements than economics."

On June 10, Alexei Ulyukayev, first deputy chairman of the Central Bank, said Russia may move some of its reserves from U.S. Treasuries into International Monetary Fund bonds, driving Treasuries and the dollar lower. About 30 percent of Russia's international reserves, which stand at $409.5 billion, are currently held in Treasuries, he said.

Yet Kudrin said on June 6 that Treasuries would be an "attractive" investment even if the U.S. sovereign rating were cut. "They will still be among the most liquid investments," he said.

Talk of reducing the role of the dollar is a "double-edged sword," for Russia, Tikhomirov said. "It doesn't so much hurt America. Any hint that Russia is going to change the structure of its reserves is going to hurt Russia as well."

Russia's vulnerability to dollar declines also comes from its reliance on exports of oil and gas, which are priced in dollars. Energy accounted for 67.4 percent of exports to the Baltic states and countries outside the former Soviet Union in the first four months of the year, according to the Federal Customs Service.

"It's impossible to abandon the dollar in the near future," said Stanislav Ponomarenko, chief economist in Moscow at ING Group. "Weakening the status of the dollar as a reserve currency isn't desirable. Kudrin, with his commentary, demonstrates this."

Medvedev and China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan have both suggested that the world may need another benchmark for settling international debts and have proposed using the IMF's unit of account, known as Special Drawing Rights, as an alternative.

While Russia and China may seek to price contracts in rubles or yuan, any meaningful shift away from the dollar would take "decades" to achieve, Tikhomirov said.