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- Russia logged a nearly 50% drop in oil and gas revenue in January, contributing to a wider budget deficit.
- Moscow’s spending surged by nearly 60% as the war against Ukraine ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin neared the one-year mark.
- Russia has been selling foreign currency reserves to help make up the budget shortfall.
A slide in Russian revenue from oil and gas clashed against the Kremlin ramping up spending on its nearly year-long war against Ukraine, resulting in a wider budget deficit for the country in January.
Oil and gas revenue tumbled 46% in January from the same month a year ago to 426 billion rubles ($5.96 billion), Russia’s finance ministry said Monday in a preliminary release. It attributed the decline largely to a drop in prices for its Urals blend — its largest crude oil export — and to a fall in exports for natural gas.
Russia sold Urals at an average price of $49.48 per barrel in January, lower than the $70 per barrel total in Russia’s budget, according to the Financial Times. Revenue from oil and gas serves as a key source of funding for spending by Moscow, but the country has run into sanctions imposed by Western countries after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Government spending in January, meanwhile, jumped by 58.7% from a year earlier to 3.12 trillion rubles. Expenditures rose amid largely classified plans by Russia to increase defense spending to 3.5 trillion rubles in 2023, the FT reported.
The lower energy sales and the rise in spending contributed to the federal budget logging a deficit of 1.76 trillion rubles ($24.78 billion) last month.
Russia has been selling energy to countries, including China and India, to boost its funds. Russia has also increased sales of its foreign exchange reserves to address the budget shortfall stemming from the war it launched in February 2022.
Last week, the finance ministry said it would sell more than $2 billion worth of foreign currency from February 7 to March 6 – nearly tripling the 54.5 billion rubles worth of currency reserves sold last month.