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Defending the ruble has cost Russia around $80 billion this year, and depending on who's doing the calculations, its usable hard currency reserves are now either starting to run low, or at a healthy $400 billion-plus.While Russia has only slowed the ruble's slide, it looks all right by any yardstick of whether its reserves are adequate. The other leading measure requires reserves to at least equal a country's external debt payments for the coming year; Russia has four times that.Russia's currency has lost about 45 percent against the dollar this year due to plummeting prices for oil, Russia's main export, and Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis.Anders Aslund, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington DC, is one of those who insist that the official headline reserves figure is deceptive. That's because it includes two "rainy-day" funds built up over the years, which strictly speaking should not form part of reserves, he says.After accounting for Russia's current account surplus, which makes hard currency funds available for repaying foreign debts, the country would still have to delve rapidly into the reserves to meet its obligations.
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