A man passes by a currency exchange office in Moscow, March 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov)
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President Vladimir Putin's brinkmanship in Ukraine has already cost some of his closest comrades billions of dollars. The other 144 million Russians may also pay a price.Growth slowed to 1.3 percent last year, the least since a 2009 recession, from 3.4 percent in 2012 .The Russian currency weakened 1.8 percent against the dollar on March 3 even after the central bank unexpectedly raised its key interest rate by 150 basis points and spent as much as $12 billion defending the currency, according to ING Groep The Micex Index sank as much as 13 percent.The banks with the biggest exposure are Vnesheconombank, the development bank known as VEB, with 74 percent of its capital, Gazprombank with about 40 percent and VTB Group with 14 percent, according to Fitch.Even so, Putin is prepared to do whatever it takes to stop Ukraine from aligning with the West, said Michael Ganske, head of emerging markets at Rogge Global Partners PLC in London.Putin considers Ukraine and its 45 million people key to his goal of building a trading bloc to rival the EU, according to Ganske.
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