Russians search for cash as west imposes sanctions on banks

People in Moscow and other Russian cities stormed ATMs and bank branches in search of cash, both in roubles and dollars, as they feared a collapse of the national currency and inability to use international payment systems.

Queues of people seeking to withdraw foreign currencies started to form as early as Thursday morning, after the decision by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to start a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, sending the rouble to its historic lows. A Financial Times reporter could witness that some branches of international banks ran out of US dollars by midday that day.

The search for cash continued into the weekend as EU countries were agreeing measures to curtail the Russian central bank’s ability to use its foreign currency reserves and cut off some Russian lenders from the Swift global payment system. Worrying they would not be able to pay with their Visa and Mastercard cards, ordinary citizens went looking for any cash in any currency.

On Sunday, the central bank sought to calm markets and depositors by pledging to continuously supply banks with rouble liquidity, with no limit on the amount banks wanted to borrow. It also said it would “significant expand” its so-called Lombard list, which includes the securities it would accept as collateral to help banks cover their refinancing needs.

“The Russian banking system is stable, has sufficient capital reserves and liquidity to function without outages in any situation. All client funds are…

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