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Russia could soon default on external loans for the first time since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution

April 10, 2022, 9:15 PM UTC

Russia could default on external loans for the first time in more than a century, if credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s most recent assessment of the pariah nation is accurate.

The agency downgraded the country to “selective default” late Friday after it arranged to make foreign bond payments not in dollars but in rubles, according to multiple news outlets.

The decision was partially based on the prediction that Russia will face additional sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine in the coming weeks. A selective default rating is issued when an entity defaults on a specific payment but makes others on time, the Associated Press reported, citing an S&P spokesperson.

On Wednesday the country’s finance agency said it tried to make a $649 million payment to an unspecified U.S. bank, previously reported as JPMorgan Chase. The tightened sanctions prevented the payment from going through, so it paid in rubles, the agency said, per the news outlet.

Russia hasn’t defaulted on foreign debt since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, when the Soviet Union emerged. Russia defaulted on domestic debt but not foreign debt in the late 1990s after the Soviet Union’s demise; it paid foreign debts.

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