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Russia Makes Record OFZ Bond Sale, Ruble at Two-Week High

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Russia’s Finance Ministry on Wednesday sold a record volume of five-year OFZ treasury bonds worth 94.74 billion rubles ($1.46 billion), Reuters reports.

Demand for the bonds, which is seen as a gauge of global market sentiment toward Russian assets, totaled $2.84 billion, the ministry said.

The ruble reached two-week highs on Wednesday as investors snapped up the government bonds, helping the finance ministry sell a record bulk of papers. Weekly auctions of such bonds usually shore up the ruble as some investors convert their funds into the Russian currency to buy the papers.

The Bank of Russia said in its April report on financial markets released on Wednesday that demand for OFZ bonds was boosted by a globally increased appetite for emerging market assets as well as higher prices of oil, Russia’s key export commodity.

Foreign investors bought 41.6% of OFZ bonds auctioned by the finance ministry in April, taking their share among holders of these bonds to 27.1%, the central bank said.

Demand for OFZ bonds on Wednesday was also bolstered by the redemption of OFZ bonds series 26216 worth 250 billion rubles ($3.87 billion), with part of the money being reinvested into Russian government bonds, analysts said.

At the second auction, the Finance Ministry sold 38.3 billion rubles ($593 million) worth of bonds maturing in 2034 with demand reaching 51.5 billion rubles ($798 million).

The ruble firmed to 64.72 against the dollar, its strongest level since April 30, and was up 0.4% on the day at 64.74 as of 1315 GMT.

Apart from demand related to OFZ auctions, the ruble was buoyed by tax payments as well as hopes for a decline in geopolitical tensions after a Russia-U.S. meeting.

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Kremlin spokesman says Putin-Zelensky meeting not on the table yet

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The possibility of holding a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky has not been discussed thus far, TASS quotes Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying.

“No, we are not discussing it yet. For now, it is important to wait until the Ukrainian elections are completed. Then, we will be able to seriously address serious problems without election fuss,” Peskov told journalists Thursday when asked to comment prospects for Zelensky-Putin meeting.

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Moscow Refutes Claims That Russian Ground Troops Present in Syria’s Idlib

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The Russian Defence Ministry refuted on Thursday a recent report by Reuters information agency that claimed that Russia had recently sent its ground troops and special forces to the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib for fighting alongside the Syrian Army against the opposition.

“Claims that Russian ‘ground troops’ and ‘special forces’ are allegedly participating in military operations in the province of Idlib (Syria), spread by UK information agency Reuters, are another fake. There are no Russian ‘ground troops’ in Syria, and there have never been any”, the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Тhe news comes several days after jihadists attacked Harab al-Hizato settlement in Latakia province 

Russian military previosuly launched several airstikes on terrorist positions in Idlib after the militants had attacked Turkish military post and Russian Hmeymim airbase.

The northwestern Idlib province is home to scores of various groups, including the Jabhat al-Nusra terror group. Around 30,000 militants, including foreign mercenaries, are reportedly operating in the region.

Russia, Turkey and Iran are the ceasefire guarantors in the country. Russia carries out humanitarian operations across the country on a regular basis and helps Damascus in providing safe passage for the return of Syrian refugees.

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Putin, Zelensky’s Personal Meeting Not on the Table Yet — Kremlin

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A possibility of holding a personal meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart Vladimir Zelensky is not being discussed now, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“No, we are not discussing it yet. For now, it is important to wait until the Ukrainian elections [to the Verkhovna Rada] are completed. Then, we will be able to seriously resolve serious problems without the fuss surrounding the election campaign,” he said in response to a question whether the personal meeting of the two leaders is possible in the near future.

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