The head of Russia’s central bank reportedly wanted to resign from her post within the last several weeks – only for Russian President Vladimir Putin to refuse her request and force her to remain as Western nations implemented crippling economic sanctions.
Elvira Nabiullina, who has worked closely with Putin to shape Russia’s economic policy for more than two decades, tried to quit shortly after the Kremlin ordered its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
But Putin blocked the move and Nabiullina was nominated last week for another five-year term leading Russia’s central bank.
While Nabiullina’s current views on the war are unclear, the sanctions imposed by the US and other countries have crippled the Russian economy, caused the ruble’s value to crater and put Russia at risk of defaulting on its debt obligations.
Any future attempt by Nabiullina to leave her role would be viewed as a betrayal of Putin, who is under immense international pressure to halt the invasion, Bloomberg reported, citing sources with knowledge of the situation. Nabiullina has yet to publicly comment on her renomination.
So far, just one prominent Putin adviser has resigned from their post following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Anatoly Chubais stepped down as Russia’s climate envoy and has fled the country, according to Bloomberg.
The Central Bank of Russia has scrambled to stabilize the country’s collapsing economy following the sanctions – which included the ejection of key Russian banks from the SWIFT international payments system and a US ban on Russian oil and gas imports. Countless Western companies have exited Russia since the invasion began.
Russia’s main stock exchange resumed limited trading Wednesday for the first time in nearly a month after sanctions prompted a crash.
The chaotic economic situation has led to turnover at the Central Bank of Russia itself – with IT staffers reportedly struggling to keep pace with account terminations due to the sheer number of employees who have left their posts.
In a March 2 video to central bank employees, Nabiullina purportedly warned against “political debates” and described Russia’s economic conditions as “extreme” – while acknowledging that “all of us would have wanted for this not to happen,” according to Bloomberg.
Putin asserts that Russia is equipped to thrive despite the sanctions and has pledged to take retaliatory economic action against countries participating in the crackdown. Measures to date have included an easing of intellectual property protections for Western companies that were active in Russia.
The isolated Russian president also demanded Wednesday that “unfriendly countries” pay for Russian oil and gas in rubles. The European Union is highly dependent on Russian energy.