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Russia’s currency free fall seems unending, as oil prices plummet and Western sanctions are taking their hit. In what Kommersant calls a “historical move”, the Central Bank of Russia (RCB) intervened on 15 December, raising the interest rate from 10.5 per cent to 17 per cent, so as to limit the rouble’s depreciation and the inflation risk.

The rouble lost 9.4 per cent to the US dollar in a single day on Monday, bringing to 50 per cent the loss since the beginning of the year. The RCB also said in its December report that it forecasts a GDP negative growth of 4 per cent in 2015, in what the Russian daily calls a “soft recession”.

EUobserver believes it is a “surprise announcement”, provoked by three main factors —

With the oil price having started to fall from above 100 US dollars a barrel in June to 60 dollars now, Russia's economy is feeling the pinch. On top of this comes the closed access to EU and US capital markets as part of the joint sanctions. […] With the US and its ally Saudi Arabia determining the oil price, it is likely that the squeeze will continue until Russian President Vladimir Putin reverses his course in Ukraine.