Ruble hits 15-month low after Wagner challenges Putin

(Bloomberg) – The ruble weakened as much as 3% against the dollar on Monday, the most this year, after a mutiny by mercenary commander Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose brief uprising poses the biggest threat to political control of the President Vladimir Putin during his almost quarter-century in power.

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The Russian currency pared losses to trade 0.6% weaker at 85.1050 to the dollar at 9:35 a.m. in Moscow, the lowest since March 2022, when it fell to new highs in the weeks since followed the start of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group, withdrew his fighters on Saturday evening after his army marched less than 200 km from the Russian capital, demanding the withdrawal of the leaders of Putin’s army. He stepped down after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko helped broker a deal that defused challenge to Putin’s leadership.

“Continued uncertainty is likely to keep the ruble under pressure,” analysts at UniCredit AG said in an emailed report, forecasting a drop towards 90 to the dollar.

READ: Putin faces historic threat to absolute power grip in Russia

Russian banks raised their exchange rates to more than 100 rubles to the dollar on Saturday as Prigozhin’s army advanced on Moscow. A day later, after he said he would step down, rates were cut back to previous levels.

The ruble has lost about 13% of its value against the US currency this year, making it one of the worst performers among emerging markets globally.

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