Russia creates emergency fund to deal with Western sanctions

Russia's Finance Ministry will create a multi-billion dollar anti-crisis fund in 2015 to aid those companies hit by sanctions, Russian news agencies cited Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying on Monday.

Will dip into pension fund as part of overall package

Anton Siluanov, shown earlier this year in St. Petersburg, Russia, announced measures Monday to aid companies hit by sanctions from the European Union and other countries around the world as a response to the engagement in eastern Ukraine. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Russia will create a multi-billion dollar anti-crisis fund in 2015 of money destined for the Pension Fund and some left over in this year's budget to help companies hit by sanctions, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov was quoted as saying on Monday.

Several waves of Western sanctions against Moscow for its involvement in the Ukraine crisis have limited access to foreign capital for Russia's largest banks and key oil companies.

Some companies have asked the government for help, including the country's top-oil producer Rosneft which said it would need 1.5 trillion roubles ($39.70 billion US) in aid.

Siluanov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies that the decision to stop transferring money to the Pension Fund would hand the budget an extra 309 billion roubles ($8.18 billion US).

He said not all of that sum would go into the anti-crisis fund, but that it would also receive at least 100 billion roubles of money left over in this year's budget.

"This 100 billion roubles will be added to the [anti-crisis] reserve next year, which will allow us to help our companies," RIA news agency citied Siluanov as saying.

"We are planning to create a reserve of a significant size."

It was not clear how big the fund would be.

It will be the second year running that Moscow has stopped transfers of funds from the budget to the Pension Fund, which provides benefits for Russia's pensioners, some invalids and families who have lost their breadwinners.

Russia's strength is being tested by the sanctions and the country must react in a level-headed way, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told members of the country's ruling party, United Russia, on Monday.

"When a series of our partners, if they can be called that, test Russia's strength through sanctions and all kinds of threats, it is important not to succumb to the temptation of so-called easy solutions and to preserve and continue the development of democratic processes in our society, our state," Medvedev said in a televised speech.