In response to the yuan shortage, Russia’s Central Bank has started conducting currency swap deals with banks. Since the beginning of the year, their volume totalled 35.7 billion yuan, while for the whole of last year it was less than 60 billion yuan. In early February, the currency swap rates exceeded 4% per annum, which is many times more than at the beginning of the year, Kommersant wrote.

Against this backdrop, Russia’s two biggest banks, Sberbank and VTB, announced a shortage of the yuan in the country. “Yuan lending now is a privilege to be earned in any major Russian bank,” said Dmitry Pyanov, VTB’s first deputy president-chairman and the bank’s chief financial officer.

At the end of January, Chouzhou Commercial Bank, a key Chinese bank for imports to Russia, notified that it was halting operations with Russian companies. Other Chinese banks also limited financial relations with their Russian partners and stopped making payments in dollars.