Russian Lawmaker Proposes Accepting Bitcoin for its Oil and Gas Exports From 'Friendly' Countries Like China and Turkey
Russia will accept bitcoin as payment for its oil and natural gas from friendly countries, its head of the energy committee said Thursday.
Russia's head of the energy committee has said the country is willing to accept bitcoin in exchange for oil and gas exports from countries like China and Turkey, as sweeping sanctions over its war in Ukraine hit trade.
But for "friendly" countries like China and Turkey, the country is open to payment in their own currencies — or even in the leading cryptocurrency, he said.
"You can also trade bitcoins," he added.
Many buyers are increasingly shunning Russian oil in the face of Western sanctions, driving trade to bargain-hunting countries like China and India. The US and UK have imposed embargoes on its energy exports, though the European Union, which is more reliant on energy imports, hasn't so far moved to ban the trade.
Zavalny's remarks suggest Russia has turned to being more flexible about the use of alternatives to the euro or the US dollar — the dominant currency in international trade — for payment.
The top energy official is a lawmaker in the Russian government's lower house, and his comments suggest the announcement is a proposal rather than a confirmed move.
Energy is the single most important source of income for Russia. In 2021, the oil and gas trade brought in $119 billion in revenue for the country, according to Reuters.
Zavalny also said he supported Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision to sell natural gas to hostile nations in rubles. The move sent European gas prices soaring by 30% on Wednesday, when the beleaguered ruble rose to a three-week high past 95 against the dollar.
"If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency, and this is gold for us, or pay as it is convenient for us, this is the national currency," Zavalny said, echoing Putin's demand.
It isn't clear how Russia's bitcoin acceptance would work with China, as Beijing last year declared all crypto-related transactions illegal. It also banned foreign exchanges from providing services to Chinese residents.
Putin said in 2021 he recognized the value in cryptocurrencies, but said it was too early to evaluate their usefulness for crossborder payments in the oil trade. Still, he said Russia was keen to ditch dollar-denominated payments.
But before its invasion of Ukraine, Russia moved to formally recognize bitcoin and other crypto-assets as currencies in early February.
Bitcoin's price spiked around the time reports of Zavalny's comments made the rounds. The cryptocurrency was last up 2% at $43,851 on Friday, according to data from CoinGecko.
Those sanctions have pushed Russia to find alternatives to normal channels. European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde highlighted this week that the Russian private sector is using crypto to skirt sanctions.
Correction: A previous version of this story referred to Pavel Zavalny as Russia's energy minister. He is chairman of the energy committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
Entrepreneur Editors' Picks
Tory Burch Built a Brand Around Empowering Women. Now Her Foundation Is Furthering Her Mission: 'How Do We as a Company Have a Positive Impact on Humanity?'
This Founder Had to Play College Basketball in Men's Shorts and Shoes, So She Launched an Athletic Clothing Company Named After the Now 50-Year-Old Title IX Act
Is Beyoncé's 'Break My Soul' the Theme Song of the Great Resignation?
You're Probably Falling for All of Amazon Prime Day's Psychological Sales Tactics. A Marketing Professor Reveals Them — and How You Can Actually Get the Best Deal.
Comedian Paul Virzi: 'If You're Not Authentic, You Have Nothing'
Struggling to Come Up With Creative Ideas? Try Doing This.
Picking a Winning Emerging Brand Is How You Get Rich in Franchising. Here's How to Spot One.