No, Russia is probably not buying $10 billion of bitcoin
Russia's rumoured bitcoin buy is just something some guy said would be cool if it happened.
Many eyebrows were raised in near-unison earlier this month when many news outlets started widely reporting the oddly specific headline of "Russia will buy $10 billion in bitcoin". The source was one economist on Twitter, Vladislav Ginko, who has said with a great deal of confidence that bitcoin is the one and only way for Russia to evade sanctions and ditch the US dollar.
That's all. There is no other source. Everything since then has been based on what this one dude is saying.
Incidentally, he also thinks Bernie Madoff is literally Satoshi Nakamoto, that the money from the Ponzi scheme went to Barack Obama and Joe Biden, and that Madoff was only arrested because he knew too much.
So, any news outlet which is reporting that Russia will be buying $10 billion of bitcoin can also start reporting on how Bernie Madoff is the real Satoshi Nakamoto. The source is just as reliable, and it's even bigger news.
The first reason this particular batch of almost-certainly fake news got legs might mostly be because it's good for bitcoin, and factual accuracy has always tended to play second fiddle to bitcoin bullishness.
The second reason might be because there are a few grains of truth mixed into it.
It's true that Russia is an outsized cryptocurrency powerhouse due to factors such as cheap energy, a relatively strong degree of official support for cryptocurrency and a history that has abjectly shown just how fragile governments and official currency can be.
It's also true that Russian officials have announced their exploration of cryptocurrency as a means of ditching the dollar and that a number of oligarchs are turning towards cryptocurrency as a way of evading sanctions, and that Russia's state-sponsored hackers used bitcoin to move money. It's also widely known that Vladmir Putin has expressed a lot of interest in blockchain and digital currencies.
At the same time, traditional avenues probably still provide a safer opportunity for moving funds in larger amounts, and if history is any indication, the coming years will see a few banks swallow a few fines for breaching the Russia sanctions.
To that end, the most recent reports from Russia's central bank show a $100 billion investment in the renminbi, euro and yen as part of its efforts to shift away from the US dollar.
It's not impossible that Russia is exploring a bitcoin purchase. But at the same time it's worth remembering that the only source for this rumour is some guy who seems like he might be a few sats short of a bitcoin.
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH