The head of Russia’s central bank has tried to quit because of the Ukraine war

The governor of the Central Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, tried to resign after invading Ukraine, people familiar with the matter said. Her efforts were rejected by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who instead nominated her for a third term.

For nearly a decade, Ms Nabiullina has been one of Mr Putin’s staunchest allies in propping up Russia’s economy against volatile oil prices and US sanctions in a growing confrontation with the West, while remaining one of the few liberals to hold senior positions in Russia’s economy Government.

News of Ms Nabiullina’s wish to resign was previously reported by Bloomberg. A spokeswoman for the central bank said on Thursday: “Bloomberg’s statements do not correspond to reality.”

Ms. Nabiullina has headed the Central Bank of Russia since 2013. Last Friday, just hours before she was due to deliver a speech about the struggling Russian economy, Mr Putin appointed her to a third term. Her second term was due to expire in June.

One of the people familiar with Ms Nabiullina’s thinking said she was caught off guard by the invasion of Ukraine and felt deeply conflicted about the war. Mr Putin ordered Russian forces into the neighboring country on February 24, sparking a conflict that has displaced more than 10 million people and reduced some Ukrainian cities to rubble.

Russian officials and lawmakers have generally joined in lockstep with Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, even if it has caused deep unease among the country’s educated urban elite.

A Kremlin spokesman confirmed on Wednesday that Anatoly Chubais has resigned as Mr Putin’s climate ambassador. Mr. Chubais, one of the architects of Russia’s free-market reforms in the 1990s, has held senior positions in state-owned companies or within the government under Putin’s rule, even as other liberals broke with the president.

A person familiar with the matter described Mr Chubais as distressed by the war and said he left the country for Istanbul. Mr Chubais did not respond to a request for comment.

But Mr. Chubais was a marginal figure compared to Ms. Nabiullina, who remained key to Russia’s macroeconomic stability and held in high esteem by Mr. Putin. Ms. Nabiullina, a respected central banker, helped clean up Russia’s banking sector and oversaw the ruble’s transition to a floating currency.

Up until that year, she was considered one of the key figures who brought a measure of economic stability and relative prosperity to Russia. But their work got much tougher after the invasion of Ukraine brought with it a string of harsh Western sanctions.

Ms. Nabiullina, dressed all in black at a public appearance a few days after the invasion, said: “Today, Russia’s financial system and economy are facing a completely abnormal situation.”

It more than doubled interest rates to 20% to strengthen the ruble and shut down stock and bond markets. However, some of their plans to protect the economy failed due to sanctions. The US and European Union have frozen a large portion of the central bank’s $630 billion in foreign exchange reserves, undermining a key element of their strategy.

Since then, shops have rushed for basic necessities, inflation has skyrocketed, many imported goods have been in short supply and some factories have closed for lack of parts, leaving thousands unemployed.

Last Friday, after being re-nominated, Ms Nabiullina was scheduled to answer questions after the central bank meeting, but instead only gave a speech. Putting a bold face on the state of Russia’s economy, she said production was falling and inflation was beating expectations. However, she added that this would create opportunities for Russian companies that previously could not compete with imports.

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Appeared in the March 25, 2022 print edition as “Central Bank Governor Tried to Quit Over War”.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/russian-central-bank-chief-tried-to-quit-over-ukraine-war-11648156812?mod=rss_markets_main The head of Russia’s central bank has tried to quit because of the Ukraine war

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