Russia says gold stash grew during war, lifting veil on reserves

Russia’s gold holdings jumped by 1 million troy ounces over the last year as the central bank bought the metal amid sanctions on its reserves imposed by the US and its allies over the invasion of Ukraine.

The Bank of Russia said it held 74.9 million ounces of gold at the end of February, unchanged from the previous month and up from 73.9 million a year earlier. Over the same period, total holdings of foreign exchange and gold dropped to $574 billion from $617 billion.

The gold hoard was worth $135.6 billion on Feb. 28, 2023, the central bank said.

The disclosure came as Russia has gradually resumed release of some economic indicators it stopped issuing publicly last year in the wake of the sanctions. Russia has the world’s second-highest gold mine output and its central bank has for years been among the biggest buyers globally.

But Russia’s bullion has been shut out of western markets since an import ban in June. Local producers, who previously shipped most of their metal to London, were forced to find new customers in Asia.