Russia has continued its trend of buying up American debt, gobbling a whopping $13.5 in U.S. government bonds in March alone.
This racks up the former Soviet empire’s total holdings of U.S. Treasury securities to nearly $100 billion, as reported by CNN Money.
March marked the third month in a row that Putin focused on American debt as a key financial strategy for his nation’s economic security.
Despite some fears of Russia meddling in U.S. affairs, their activity is not too uncharacteristic compared to other nations, such as China and Japan, each of which own more than $1 trillion in American debt.
However, Moscow’s commitment to purchasing Treasury securities over the past few months was prompted by the country’s plummeting oil price last year—dropping to the lowest levels since the early 2000’s.
Since foreign reserves are one of the most effective tools nations use to stay afloat during economic downturns, Russia began using its U.S. reserves to stabilize the ruble, which struck an all-time low in 2016.
The result: Russia’s U.S. debt holding dropped from $150 billion to $66.5 billion in 2015. All this is in contrast today with the recent upswing in their economy as the ruble skyrocketed 14% in the past 12 month period.
“Higher oil prices have allowed them to buy those dollars they used to prop up the ruble,” says Win Thin of Brown Brothers Harriman.
According to Thin, Russia may be stashing some of their U.S debt holdings in offshore tax hideouts like Switzerland or Luxemborg, which own “far more U.S. holdings than Russia.”
“You could easily make a case that the holdings are twice what’s being reported,” adds Thin.
This video from December states what countries own the most American debt.