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Sanctions, Falling Oil Prices Costing Russia Billions


FILE - A woman is reflected in a window with a board displaying currency exchange rates in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sept. 16, 2014.

Russia's finance minister says the country is on course to lose $130-140 billion annually due to Western sanctions and falling oil prices.

Speaking Monday at an economic forum in Moscow, Anton Siluanov signaled that slumping oil prices are a more serious challenge for Russia than Western punitive measures over Ukraine.

"We're losing around $40 billion a year because of geopolitical sanctions, and about $90 billion to $100 billion from oil prices falling by 30 percent," he told a news conference.

The United States and the European Union have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia for its role in the conflict in Ukraine, accusing Moscow of fueling a separatist uprising in the county's east which to date has claimed more than 4,300 lives. Russia denies involvement.

Value of Russian Ruble per USD Compared to Price of Brent Crude Sept. 9 – Nov. 17, 2014
Value of Russian Ruble per USD Compared to Price of Brent Crude Sept. 9 – Nov. 17, 2014

The RIA Novosti news agency says the Russian ruble has fallen about 23 percent against the U.S. dollar in the past three months as a result of the slump in oil prices.

President Vladimir Putin commented Sunday on the falling value of the Russian currency, telling the TASS news agency it would damage Russia's economy "somewhat," but not "fatally."

Russia suggests OPEC output cuts

Meanwhile, in an attempt to push up oil prices, Russia is trying to sway OPEC members to curtail production, signaling that it could do the same.

Analysts say that with oil prices expected to go down as low as $60 a barrel, Russia’s economy might slide into recession.

Moscow needs a per-barrel price of about $100 to keep its budget balanced.

Russia, a top oil producer but not an OPEC member, has already reached out to members Venezuela and Saudi Arabia about the need to prop up oil prices with production cuts and is expected to press the issue further before the group meets later this week in Vienna.

Some material for this story came from Reuters.