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Russia is Dumping Its US Bonds for Gold, But Where Is It Storing Its Bullion

Russia is Dumping Its US Bonds for Gold, But Where Is It Storing Its Bullion?

Sat July 28 2018


June figures from the Russian Central Bank show that Moscow added 106 tons of gold to its nearly 2,000-ton stockpile in the first six months of 2018, with the country dumping much of its US bond holdings in the process. But does Russia rely on other countries to store its precious metal, or is it safe and sound at home? Sputnik found the answer.


Russia's gold reserves rose to 1,944 tons as of June 2018, up from less than 500 tons just a decade ago. The holdings, amounting to over 17 percent of Russia's total foreign reserves, were shored up in part by offloading some $77 billion worth worth of its US Treasury bills, bonds and notes over the last six months or so.


In recent years, the central banks of a number of countries have rejected the long-accepted practice of keeping their gold abroad. Most recently, the Turkish Central Bank began withdrawing its gold from the US Federal Reserve and shipping it back to Ankara at an accelerated pace. Before that, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Venezuela made similar moves, repatriating all or part of their physical gold reserves from New York or other Western Central Banks. Hungary and Belgium have also mulled bringing their gold home for safekeeping.


Various gold bars are on display at the Bundesbank headquarter in Frankfurt, Germany (File)

© AP Photo / Michael Probst

Why Russia Is Growing Gold Reserves to Record Levels

Gold repatriation operations have not been without their difficulties. In 2013, when Germany began the repatriation of its gold from the US, so-called "logistical difficulties" saw just five tons of some 300 brought home that year, giving rise to theories that the US was holding up the process. When the Dutch Central Bank launched their repatriation program, they did so on the sly, shaving their Fed gold holdings by 122.5 tons in 2014 and only announcing that they did so after the fact. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, perhaps sensing problems with Turkey's repatriation efforts, proposed ditching dollar loans in favor of loans "based on gold" at the recent G20 meeting in April.