Russia is buying up gold while liquidating U.S. Treasury securities to avoid "political blackmail," according to a precious metals market analyst.
"This is also a kind of political declaration, stating that countries which have too many dollars can become the object of political blackmail," the expert, Munich-based Dimitri Speck told the Russian-owned news agency Sputnik, according to another country-run media outlet, RT.com. "Russia is in a situation where it faces political sanctions from the U.S. in particular, and the West in general and thus has good reason to play it safe and bet on gold."
The country's gold holdings have quadrupled over the past 10 years, with Bank of Russia data showing the totals are approaching 2,000 tons and representing 17 percent of Russia's total foreign reserves.
Russia and China, another country facing strict sanctions from the United States, are numbers five and six in the rankings of the world's largest gold holders. The U.S. ranks first in terms of the largest gold reserves, according to the GFMS Gold Survey. In comparison to Russia, the U.S. holds 8,133.5 tons of gold, representing 75.2 percent of its foreign reserves.
China is holding 1,843 tons of gold, marking 2.4 percent of its foreign reserves, and Speck said there are big differences between Russia and China when it comes to diversifying gold and dollar reserves.
"In China, gold is purchased first and foremost by private individuals and companies," he said. "The Central Bank also buys gold, but its share relative to China's total reserves is rather small," he told Sputnik. "On the other hand, private buyers purchase a great deal of gold, the figures of local exchanges dealing in gold show."
The Chinese gold holdings also are "still relatively small relative to China's economic power, and to its other reserves," said Speck, and its strategy of buying dollars in hopes of spurring exports is "short-lived."
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