Russia does not intend to stop using the U.S. dollar, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
"We are not trying to escape from the system that now exists, and which is crucially based on the dollar," the minister said. Lavrov stressed that the U.S. either does not realize its responsibility as a country, the issuer of the dollar, or grossly abuses its position.
At the same time, the Russian Foreign Minister confirmed that the Kremlin wishes to "de-dollarize" the Russian economy.
"It has been decided recently that our gold and foreign exchange reserves will no longer be stored in dollars, and the relevant actions have already been implemented, but once again I stress, this does not mean that we refuse to use the dollar at all," Lavrov concluded.
The minister also added that Russia seeks to use more national currencies in trade with China, members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and a number of other countries.
"There was some hysteria when everyone was convinced that the U.S. dollar could be used for political purposes. This is unreliable," Sergey Lavrov said. The Foreign Minister noted that Russia is preparing for the fact that "colleagues will try to dictate and punish" it through international financial settlements.
"I would like to note that none of the officials in my memory called for the SWIFT to be turned off, either for Russia or for China or for anyone else. Some politicians are calling for this, but it has never been confirmed in the statements," Lavrov added.
Within a month, the National Welfare Fund will withdraw from dollar assets, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said last week. The government plans to convert these funds into the euro and gold.
On Saturday, President Vladimir Putin explained that the actions of Western countries push Russia to use other currencies.
At a hearing in the State Duma, Dmitry Timofeyev, director of the Department of External Restrictions Control of the Russian Ministry of Finance, announced the Kremlin’s goal to "euroize" Russia. He expressed confidence that the country has "every reason" to replace the dollar with the euro. He reminded that the share of the dollar in Russian exports fell below 50% by the end of 2020, while in 2013 it was about 80%.
At the end of April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution at the plenary session calling for Russia to be disconnected from SWIFT. Such measures against Moscow were proposed to be taken in case of Russia's aggression against Ukraine. 569 deputies voted in favor, 67 against the resolution. It is not binding.
At the end of 2019, The Economist Times reported on plans by Russia, India and China to create an analogue of the SWIFT system. According to media reports, this decision was made to facilitate trade with countries under U.S. sanctions.