Kremlin rejects Russian default, says payments executed

STORY: In a call with reporters, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Russia made bond payments due in May but the fact they had been blocked by Euroclear because of Western sanctions on Russia was "not our problem".

Russia has struggled to keep up payments on $40 billion of outstanding bonds since its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, as sweeping sanctions have effectively cut the country off from the global financial system and rendered its assets untouchable to many investors.

Russia has long said it has the money to pay, calling the default artificial, as sanctions block foreign bondholders from receiving the cash. On Monday, a U.S. official said the default showed how dramatically the sanctions were impacting Russia's economy.

Around a half of Russian gold and foreign exchange reserves - some $300 billion - were earlier blocked by western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops to Ukraine.

Euroclear did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In another step to widen sanctions on Moscow, the British government said on Sunday that Britain, the United States, Japan and Canada would ban new imports of Russian gold.