The United States is considering blocking Russia’s ability to repay U.S. bondholders, allowing a key waiver to expire next week, a U.S. administration spokesman said Tuesday, which could bring Moscow closer to default.

So far, Russia has managed to make payments on international bonds, despite Western sanctions, which have complicated the payment process.

The country has $ 40 billion in international bonds, and last month it made a turnaround by making overdue bond payments to avoid default.

Russia did not default on its foreign debt after the 1917 revolution and had an investment rating before the February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is now approaching May 25, when the US license, which allows it to make payments, expires. Bloomberg News reported earlier on Tuesday that the Biden administration is ready to allow the refusal to end as planned.

“It’s under consideration, but I don’t have a preview solution yet,” a Reuters official said.

“We are considering all options to increase pressure on (Russian President Vladimir) Putin.” Bloomberg said the administration has decided not to extend the waiver as a way to maintain financial pressure on Moscow.

Western sanctions imposed after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prohibit transactions with Russia’s Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank or the National Wealth Fund.

An interim general license 9A, issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Ministry of Finance on March 2, made an exception for the purpose of “receiving interest, dividends or payments on maturity due to debt or equity”.

This license allowed Moscow to continue to pay investors and prevent defaults on its public debt, and also allowed American investors to continue to collect coupon payments.

It expires on May 25, after which Russia will have to pay almost $ 2 billion in foreign government bonds by the end of the year.

Some market participants have suggested that the Biden administration may extend the waiver so as not to penalize U.S. bondholders.

The U.S. Treasury Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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