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U.S. closes way for Russia to pay debt

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen arrives for a G7 Finance Ministers Meeting at the federal guest house Petersberg, near Bonn, Germany, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors on Wednesday, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.

The Treasury Department said in a notification that does not plan to renew the license to allow Russia to keep paying its debt holders through American banks.

Since the first rounds of sanctions, the Treasury Department has given banks a license to process any bond payments from Russia. That window expires at midnight May 25.

There had already been signs that the Biden administration was unwilling to extend the deadline. At a press conference heading into the Group of Seven finance minister meetings in Koenigswinter, Germany, last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the window existed “to allow a period of time for an orderly transition to take place, and for investors to be able to sell securities.”

“The expectation was that it was time-limited,” Yellen said.

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