MOSCOW – The Standard & Poor’s credit agency on Friday cut Russia’s credit rating for the first time in more than five years, citing the capital flight and risk to investment in the wake of the Ukraine crisis.
Credit ratings are important for the economy because they determine how expensive it will be for a country or company to borrow on international markets.
Russia’s economic growth slowed to 0.8 per cent in the first quarter, sharply worse than earlier forecast while spooked investors pulled about $70 billion out of the country — more than in all of 2013. However, the cut in Russia’s rating from BBB to BBB- is the most tangible economic result of Russia’s policies toward Ukraine so far.
BBB- is just a step above a speculative or non-investment grade.
S&P said in a statement that the revised Russia’s rating because the tense situation “could see additional significant outflows of both domestic and foreign capital from the Russian economy.”
Rating agencies had not cut Russia’s sovereign rating since December 2008.
Moscow in March recognized a hastily called referendum in Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and annexed it weeks later, attracting condemnation of the West as well as sanctions targeting individuals. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday warned Moscow that unless it took immediate steps to de-escalate the situation, Washington would impose additional sanctions.
A senior official travelling with President Barack Obama said he is likely to call European leaders Friday to discuss the possibility of further sanctions. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because there had been no official announcement.