Russia's ruble has rebounded in recent weeks, as the Kremlin patched together an aggressive defense of its fiat currency.
The ruble was valued (vs. the U.S. dollar) at 80.41 on February 23, the day before Putin’s invasion. It skyrocketed to 131.50 on March 7. It plunged to 90.72 on the Ides of March (the 15th). And it opened today at 94.75.
Matt Phillips reports that Moscow’s latest attempt to shore up support came in the form of a direct demand from His Rogueness (Putin) that the EU pay for natural gas with rubles instead of dollars or euros.
It's a not-so-veiled effort by Russia to create demand for its struggling currency—with the ruble jumping 8% on the news.
Widespread sanctions imposed after Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February have hammered the ruble, wiping out 90% of its value against the dollar at times.
Moscow took measures—like doubling interest rates, halting currency trading, and demanding that Russian companies exchange their foreign earnings for rubles—that slowed the bungie jump and prevented a crash.
But Putin's latest scheme has already been called a breach of contract by Germany, the eurozone’s largest buyer of Russian natural gas.
If the breach prompts a full rupture with Europe, which buys 40% of its gas from Russia, the ruble will likely take another tumble.
Such a break, however, would also make Europe's energy crisis a lot worse. To wit, European natural gas prices jumped 30% after Putin made his latest demand.