Moscow (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Russia had no choice but to cut its dependency on dollars to conduct trade, after becoming the target of increasingly severe US sanctions.
"It isn't our goal to desert the dollar," Putin told an investment forum in comments broadcast on national television. "The dollar is deserting us."
The dollar is the preeminent currency in international trade. Washington has made it difficult for some targets of its sanctions to use the currency.
"Those who are taking such decisions are not shooting themselves in the foot, but a bit higher," Putin said to laughter from the crowd.
Worries about the ability to use the dollar will push other countries to seek alternatives, said Putin.
Russian authorities have long talked about "de-dolarisation" of its international trade.
"We need to do it and I assure you we will do it," said Putin.
However, progress on that front has been slow. Oil, Russia's major export, is priced in dollars.
Nevertheless, much of Russia's trade with its ex-Soviet neighbours is in rubles, and Putin noted the country recently sold its S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries to Turkey without dollars featuring in the transaction.
Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov recently said India will pay for its S-400s in rubles.
Russia and China have also indicated they want to increase the use of the ruble and yuan in their bilateral trade.
Russia has been hit by several rounds of sanctions by Washington and the European Union since Moscow's intervention in Ukraine in 2014.