Russia’s Foreign Debt Surge: A 9% Jump in 2022 Driven by Belarus, Bangladesh, India, and Egypt

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RBK’s recent report highlighted a substantial surge in foreign debt owed to Russia, jumping by nearly 9% in 2022 as per data extracted from the World Bank’s annual International Debt Report (IDR).

In the past year, a total of 37 countries found themselves indebted to Russian creditors, amassing a significant $28.9 billion. This surge marked a $2.3 billion uptick, translating to an 8.7% increase from 2021. The figures encapsulate debts from individuals residing in these nations to Russian residents, with repayment commitments spanning currencies, goods, or services.

Leading the pack among Russia’s key debtors by the end of 2022 were Belarus ($8.24 billion), Bangladesh ($5.86 billion), India ($3.75 billion), Egypt ($1.82 billion), and Vietnam ($1.39 billion). Notably, India, Bangladesh, and Egypt stood out as nations that notably expanded their debts to Russian creditors.

The majority of these debts comprised long-term state-backed obligations, predominantly encompassing loans extended by the Russian government and its affiliated agencies. Notably, debts to private Russian creditors, such as commercial banks, were relatively limited. The IDR documented traces of such liabilities solely in Argentina (approximately $8 million), Ivory Coast ($41 million), and Türkiye ($50 million).

The IDR’s data framework covers external debt insights and analysis for 122 low- and middle-income countries participating in the World Bank Debt Reporting System (DRS). Typically sourced from finance ministries and central banks of these nations, the IDR doesn’t encompass Cuba and Venezuela’s external debt data.

Russia’s Finance Ministry refrains from disclosing specific details regarding debtor states. The Bank of Russia’s latest public disclosure pertaining to non-residents’ debts to Russian government entities dated back to January 2022, approximating around $49 billion. As per RBK’s estimates, in 2021, Russia stood as the fifth-largest sovereign creditor to developing nations.

In a noteworthy move this July, Russia declared a write-off of $23 billion in debts owed by African states. President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg, indicated that this measure resolved 90% of African countries’ obligations to Russia, leaving only minor financial commitments outstanding.

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