Where is the Russian Federation’s Gold Stored?


Within the present setting of weaponised Western sanctions in opposition to Russia, and the important significance of financial gold reserves as Russia’s final asset, a well timed query to ask is the place Russia’s gold reserves are literally saved.

The placement of Russia’s gold reserves is very intriguing given the continuing freeze of Russia’s overseas trade reserves – greenback, euro, pound – by Western powers, and the very fact that there’s a US Congress Invoice being launched by some senators in Washington DC to attempt to ‘freeze’ Russia’s gold.    

On the outset, some clarifications. Many of the gold reserves of the Russian Federation are owned and managed by the Financial institution of Russia. And with the Financial institution of Russia being owned by the Russian Federation, these gold reserves of the Financial institution of Russia are gold reserves of the Russian Federation.

Russia’s Nationwide Wealth Fund (NWF) may also spend money on gold and different valuable metals. Whereas the NWF “is managed by the Russian Ministry of Finance primarily based on funding procedures and phrases established by the Russian Authorities, the operational funding of the NWF is carried out by the Financial institution of Russia.” So if the NWF additionally holds gold, which it could properly do, then this gold would additionally classify as a part of the gold reserves of the Russian Federation.

Moreover, the Russian Federation’s ‘State Fund of Valuable Metals and Valuable Stones’ (Gosfund), which is run by Russian Federation establishment ‘The Gokhran’, can also be authorised to carry gold. The Gosfund then might properly additionally maintain gold, which might even be categorised as a part of the Russian Federations’ gold reserves.

This text, nevertheless, will look simply on the financial gold reserves of the Financial institution of Russia, which at the moment are claimed (by the Financial institution of Russia) to whole 2,299 tonnes.

Financial institution of Russia financial gold reserves, 2299 tonnes as of February 2022, Supply: www.GoldChartsRUs.com

From 400 tonnes to 2300 tonnes of gold

Within the central financial institution gold market, the Financial institution of Russia stands out for having elevated its financial gold reserves by almost six-fold over a mere 12 years through gold shopping for within the home Russian market. This gold was sourced from Russian gold refiners by Russian business banks, refined to a excessive commonplace in Russian gold refineries, after which bought by the Russian business banks to the Financial institution of Russia.

Again in 2007, the Financial institution of Russia held about 400 tonnes of financial gold. In direction of the top of 2007, the Financial institution started aggressively including to its gold holdings, and by early 2011 Russian gold reserves had exceeded 800 tonnes. By the top of 2014, this determine had swelled to greater than 1200 tonnes of gold. By late 2016, the overall breached 1600 tonnes. And by mid 2018, the Financial institution of Russia held greater than 2000 tonnes of financial gold.

The expansion trajectory slowed down barely in the direction of the top of 2018, however by early 2020, the Financial institution of Russia claimed to carry almost 2300 tonnes of gold, an official determine which has not modified by a lot since that point (for the reason that Financial institution of Russia says that it stopped shopping for gold over most of that point).

The explanation for offering this development abstract of Russian central financial institution gold holdings since 2007 is that it may need some bearing on the place the Financial institution of Russia has saved the extra gold that it bought over the 2008-2020 interval.

The First Go to – January 2011

One of many first references to the Financial institution of Russia’s up to date gold storage coverage is from 24 January 2011, and is from a press launch characteristic on the Russian authorities’s personal web site, the place we discover that:

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visited the central depository of Russia’s Central Financial institution, which holds two-thirds of the nation’s gold and overseas trade reserves.

This press launch, which stated that Putin was the primary ever Russian prime minister to go to the gold vault facility, was accompanied by a now well-known photograph of Putin holding a gold bar (see under).

Vladimir Putin holding a gold bar throughout a tour of a Financial institution of Russia gold vault n Moscow, January 2011. Supply 

The press launch additionally has three different accompanying photographs of Putin and an entourage touring the depository, one (see under) with the caption:

“On the central depository situated in downtown Moscow, the prime minister toured the storage amenities for foreign money reserves and noticed the technique of management weighing and packing valuable metals.

Putin and entourage touring Financial institution of Russia Moscow vault, January 2011. Supply

There may be additionally a well-used photograph of Putin wanting on as a vault worker in blue overalls takes a gold bar out of a picket storage field:

On the time in January 2011, the Financial institution of Russia’s gold bars had been saved in small picket containers, as per this photograph. Supply

And a photograph of sturdy material luggage that presumably maintain cash, however as as to whether these are common circulation ruble cash, or gold bullion ruble cash, it’s not clear. In all probability funding gold cash of ‘George the Victorious’.

Cash in sturdy material luggage in a Moscow vault of the Financial institution of Russia, January 2011. Supply.

Through the tour of the Moscow vault (word that the Russian authorities didn’t specify the place in Moscow the gold vault was situated), Putin requested the then deputy chairman of the Russian central financial institution, Georgy Luntovsky, the place the gold within the vault primarily got here from, to which Luntovsky replied that they “purchased the gold from business banks, citing Nomos Financial institution, VTB and MDM Financial institution as key companions.”

As to the cupboard space and the storage preparations, the press launch acknowledged that:

the central depository has an space of 17,000 sq. metres with 1,500 sq. metres occupied by the saved reserves. Along with gold bars saved in plastic and picket instances, an emergency inventory of banknotes is saved. A normal gold bar weighs between 10kg and 14 kg, and small bars weigh between 100g and 1,000 g. Nearly all of Russia’s gold reserves is saved in commonplace bars.

At the moment in January 2011, the Financial institution of Russia claimed to carry about 800 tonnes of gold, and if two thirds of this gold was saved within the Moscow vault, that will be about 533 tonnes.

Ulitsa Pravdy – Fact Road, Moscow

There are a heap of extra photographs out there on Russian web sites of Putin’s January 2011 tour of the Financial institution of Russia’s Moscow gold vault, reminiscent of the next photographs from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (www.kp.ru) which will be seen right here and under.

Putin & Co enter vault storing gold in picket containers (to the best within the photograph), January 2011
Vault worker opening a picket field containing gold bars, Financial institution of Russia vaults, Moscow
Vault worker in blue overalls shows a gold bar taken out of a picket field, January 2011
Reservoir Canine, minus a man in a tracksuit, January 2011
Shut up of picket containers which comprise gold bars, January 2011

There are additionally some photographs of the identical vault on the Sdelanounas.ru web site right here and under, and apparently, the individual posting these photographs stated the vaults in query are the Gokhran vaults in Moscow, and never the Financial institution of Russia vaults. A mistake in terminology? Perhaps. Perhaps not. That poster additionally claimed (on 20 September 2013) that one third of the Financial institution of Russia’s gold reserves had been at the moment being saved in St.Petersburg (extra on that under).

Gold bars on steel trolleys, Financial institution of Russia Moscow gold vault, January 2011
Russian gold bars lined up on trolleys within the Financial institution of Russia’s Moscow gold vault, January 2011

Quick ahead two years to 11 February 2013, and Bloomberg ran a narrative about Russia’s gold reserves, with the headline “Putin Turns Black Gold to Bullion as Russia Outbuys World”. At the moment in February 2013, the Financial institution of Russia claimed to have 958 tonnes of gold, i.e. a rise of about 160 tonnes over January 2011, however the Financial institution (or Bloomberg) was nonetheless quoting that ‘two thirds’ of this gold was in Moscow. This ‘two thirds’ quote may solely be true in 2011 and 2013 if the Financial institution of Russia continuously allotted two thirds of its continuous gold purchases to the Moscow vault and one third to elsewhere. In any other case it was only a handy quote circulated by the Financial institution of Russia that will have been true in 2011 however that Bloomberg continued to make use of in 2013.

Nevertheless, Bloomberg did present one attention-grabbing piece of knowledge, in that it revealed that the final handle and road location of the Moscow gold vault is below a constructing in Pravda Road in central Moscow:    

Russia retains about two-thirds of its stockpile in a greenish grey stone-and-glass constructing on Ulitsa Pravdy, or Fact Road, in central Moscow. The highway is called after Pravda, the official newspaper of the Communist Celebration, which additionally was headquartered there.”

“On 24 January 2011… [Putin] toured the 17,000 square-meter facility, which incorporates 1,500 sq. meters of storage, with First Deputy Chairman Georgy Luntovsky, posing for pictures lifting an ingot. Many of the bars weigh 10 to 14 kilograms (22 to 31 kilos) and are boxed in plastic or picket crates alongside an emergency provide of banknotes.”

Prophetically, this Bloomberg article additionally had a quote from Russian parliamentarian Evgeny Fedorov, who informed Bloomberg in February 2013 that:

The extra gold a rustic has, the extra sovereignty it’ll have if there’s a cataclysm with the greenback, the euro, the pound or every other reserve foreign money”.

Precisely 9 years later that cataclysm took place within the type of Western powers freezing the Financial institution of Russia’s overseas trade reserves in all the US greenback, euro and pound.  

Quick ahead one other 4 years from February 2013 to 1 February 2017, and an article appeared on the web site “Russia Past” written by Alexander Bratersky and titled “The place are Russia’s huge gold reserves hidden?”. At the moment on the finish of January 2017, the Financial institution of Russia claimed to have over 1600 tonnes of gold, which was 650 tonnes greater than February 2013, and twice as a lot gold as in January 2011.

Putin holding a gold bar for a photoshoot. Location unknown

Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg

In his article, Bratersky was nonetheless quoting the ‘two thirds’ of the gold being in Moscow. This might solely have been true if the Russians had been frequently allocating two thirds of latest purchases to the Moscow storage location, however may be a type of snippets of knowledge which can have been true in 2011 however will not be so correct all by Russia’s huge gold accumulation train of 2011 – 2020.

However one necessary piece of latest data which Bratersky did add was that the remainder of the Russian gold that was not saved in Moscow was being saved within the cities of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. For he wrote:    

“Whereas Russia doesn’t have a Fort Knox, virtually two-thirds of the nation’s gold is saved in a Central Financial institution repository in Moscow. The remainder is saved away in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. The gold is saved in bullions weighing from 100 grams to 14 kilograms.”

Notice that in his article, Bratersky didn’t present any sources to his claims that ‘one third’ of Russian gold is saved in some mixture of areas in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg. 

For many individuals outdoors Russia, St Petersburg will want no introduction, as St Petersburg together with Moscow is one in all Russia’s ‘two capitals’ and a serious (and well-known) historic and cultural Russian metropolis on the Baltic Sea adjoining to Finland and Estonia. In actual fact,  St Petersburg, is a gateway between Russia and the remainder of Europe. St. Petersburg can also be Putin’s dwelling metropolis.

However the metropolis of Yekaterinburg, which is 1700 kms east of Moscow and the capital of the Urals area, could also be much less well-known. Whereas Yekaterinburg is Russia’s fourth largest metropolis when it comes to inhabitants, it’s typically generally known as Russia’s ‘third metropolis’ since, along with Moscow and St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg is culturally and scientifically necessary. Yekaterinburg can also be logistically important as it’s situated “in the principle worldwide transportation hall which leads from Central Russia to the Far East and is the node of the Urals railway system. It has the most important variety of direct railway connections of any large regional middle and is third when it comes to the variety of flights.

Yekaterinburg (generally generally known as Ekaterinburg) can also be dwelling to a valuable metals refinery within the type of the “Ekaterinburg non-ferrous metals processing plant”, a refinery which was an LBMA Good Supply Refinery till it received suspended by the LBMA in Might 2018.

Putin holds a gold bar for a photoshoot. Location unknown.

However Bratersky was not the primary to state that Financial institution of Russia gold was being saved in St Petersburg and Yekaterinburg, as a result of a Russian article from July 2015 on the web site Vegchel.ru additionally acknowledged this. At the moment, the Financial institution of Russia claimed to carry about 1240 tonnes of gold. The Vegchel.ru article wrote:

“In the present day, two-thirds of the gold and overseas trade reserves of the Russian Federation are saved within the Central Financial institution’s Central Financial institution, situated in Moscow on Pravda Road. …The central depository was created in 1940 on the premise of the USSR State Financial institution Administration. Now the Central Depository is a part of the developed system of the Financial institution of Russia.

Along with the principle storage unit in Moscow, inter-regional storage amenities are situated in St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

Basically, the system accountable for the distribution of the nation’s money has 608 multi-level money settlement facilities, every of which has storage amenities.

“The storage of gold reserves is carried out primarily in gold bars weighing from 10 to 14 kg, there are additionally measured bars, the burden of which is from 100 grams to at least one kilogram

There are about 6,100 containers of valuable steel ingots within the Central Vault.

These containers which the Vegchel.ru article referred to, are the picket containers which you’ll see within the photographs (above) throughout Putin’s tour of the Moscow gold vault in January 2011.

A Far Bigger Vault – January 2018

Quick Ahead to January 2018, and the reporters from Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (www.kp.ru) had been again, this time being granted unique entry to what regarded like a far larger and much more trendy gold vault of the Financial institution of Russia in Moscow. Gone had been the small picket containers, changed as an alternative by soccer subject dimension areas crammed with towers of steel latticed containers, every container holding 20 giant gold bars. The vault workers within the vault had been additionally carrying wine colored overalls.

The KP employees who visited the gold vault had been reporter Yevgeny Belyakov and photojournalist Vladimir Velengurin. There are lots of articles on Russian web sites with a number of photographs of this gold vault taken by the KP photographer in January 2018. Such because the Russia-Insider web site right here. Further photographs will be seen on the Yaplakal.com web site right here.

Financial institution of Russia Moscow gold vault, January 2018
KP reporter Yevgeny Belyakov exhibits authorisation for getting into the Financial institution of Russia gold vault, Moscow. January 2018
KP reporter taking a look at a steel latticed field which incorporates 20 giant gold bars.
Vault workers dealing with Russian gold bars – Discover the 20 bar association within the containers.

Notably, the vault which the KP reporters visited in January 2018 additionally saved hundreds of silver bars organized on pallets and lined with cardboard (see photographs under). So the Financial institution of Russia isn’t just a gold stacker, however a silver stacker too.

Giant Russian silver bars saved on pallets within the Financial institution of Russia vaults in Moscow.
Lots of of pallets of Silver bars saved in the identical vault area because the gold bars of the Financial institution of Russia, Moscow.

Conclusion

So is the central depository vault on Ulitsa Pravdy (Pravda Road) in Moscow which Putin toured in January 2011 (and which incorporates the picket containers of gold bars), the identical vault which the KP reporters visited in February 2018?

Probably. The vault area was described in 2011 as a “an space of 17,000 sq. metres with 1,500 sq. metres occupied by the saved reserves”, so it’s possible that the realm used to retailer gold bars was prolonged because the Financial institution of Russia’s gold reserves expanded massively over 2011 – 2020. So there might be gold bars nonetheless sorted in small picket containers in addition to saved within the giant steel containers (20 bars per container).

The place are the photographs of the gold vaults of St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg? Reply – There aren’t any photographs throughout the St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg gold vaults so far as I can see. If you already know in any other case, please spotlight such photographs.

Is the ‘two thirds’ of the gold in Moscow below ‘Fact Road’ and ‘one third’ elsewhere nonetheless legitimate, or was it ever so? What’s the ‘Fact? Nobody outdoors of official circles is aware of the reply. However it might make sense from a diversification and safety perspective, to not retailer all of the gold in the identical location.

Might the Russian Federation be storing strategic gold reserves outdoors Russia? Sure, however they might be very silly to have been storing any gold within the vaults of Western powers reminiscent of within the Financial institution of England in London or the Federal Reserve in New York or the Banque de France in Paris, as gold in such areas would have been confiscated and frozen by now. However Russia might be storing a few of its gold in China, in Beijing or Shanghai. Not thus far fetched.    

Does Russia’s Nationwide Wealth Fund maintain gold? Probably. Does the Gokhran retailer gold? Probably. Might Russia maintain extra gold than it claims to carry? In all probability.

The Financial institution of Russia has 7 fundamental regional branches and 73 divisional places of work, all of which will be seen right here. In  idea any of those regional or divisional places of work might be storing Financial institution of Russia gold. Moreover, the Vegchel.ru  article (above) stated that the Financial institution of Russia foreign money distribution system “contains 608 money processing centres and virtually all of them has a storage facility.” In idea, any of those storage amenities might be used to retailer Financial institution of Russia gold. 

Moreover, all the giant Russian banks, reminiscent of VTB, Gazprombank, Sberbank, Otkritie and Sovcombank, are energetic within the Russian gold market, and lots of of those banks have their very own personal vaults. Since these banks work carefully with Russia’s central financial institution within the home Russian gold market, its possible that the massive Russian business banks may retailer gold bars on behalf of the Financial institution of Russia or the NWF or the Gokhran. 

There are additionally the valuable metals refineries reminiscent of  Krastsvetmet, Prioksky, and Moscow Particular Alloys Plant, that are all 100% owned by the Russian Federation. All of those refiners have safe valuable vaults, which might be used to retailer Russian Federation gold.

In brief, Putin’s tour of a gold vault in 2011 and Russian reporters visiting a gold vault in 2018 are nice for optics and advertising, and the Financial institution of Russia has been very profitable on this regard, however with out some exhausting info about bar numbers and locational particulars from the Russian authorities and Financial institution of Russia, we nonetheless don’t know the true state and site of the Russian Federation’s gold reserves.

Which isn’t shocking, since as Chris Powell of GATA has stated up to now and can say once more:

“the quantities, location, and disposition of authorities gold reserves are secrets and techniques extra delicate than the quantities, location, and disposition of nuclear weapons.

Certainly, below nuclear weapons management treaties, governments with nuclear weapons have typically shared that type of data, even with hostile powers. However gold reserve data is way extra tightly held and most gold data offered formally is definitely disinformation.

Why is it this manner? It’s as a result of gold is an much more highly effective weapon than nukesanother foreign money that isn’t essentially below any authorities’s energy; a determinant of the worth of different currencies, rates of interest, authorities bonds, and equities.”

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