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Russia stockpiles gold as Washington prepares to pile on new sanctions

The Central Bank of Russia bought 26.1 tons of gold in July, bringing its holdings to 2,170 tons, according to International Monetary Fund data compiled by Bloomberg. Its the largest single monthly purchase since late 2017.

The stockpile was valued at $77.4 billion at the end of last month, according to the Russian central banks website. At current prices, the reserves are worth around $83.6 billion.

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Russian bullion holdings are approaching the Soviet peak of 2,800 tons, which were seen in 1941. Over the last decade, the countrys share of gold in reserves has soared tenfold. Russia has also continued reducing its holdings of US treasuries. It has lowered its holdings of US debt from $96.1 billion in March to just $14.9 billion in May.

The increased gold purchases come as the Trump administration gets ready to impose new sanctions on Moscow. The central banks First Deputy Governor Dmitry Tulin said that Moscow sees gold as a “100-percent guarantee from legal and political risks.”

The central bank also explained the strategy as part of diversifying the countrys reserves away from the US dollar.

According to the World Gold Council, Russia is not only the largest official buyer of gold but also the worlds third-biggest producer, with its central bank purchasing from domestic miners through commercial banks. In the past decade alone, Russia has mined more than 2,000 tons of gold, with annual production expected to rise by 400 tons by 2030.

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