Venezuela owes Russia some $3.15 billion over the next 10 years, but the South American nation will not be paying its debt using its petro cryptocurrency.

Reuters reported Tuesday that Konstantin Vyshkovsky, who heads Russia’s Finance Ministry state debt department, told reporters that Venezuela had not offered to pay some of the amount it owes using the petro, which launched in February.

Vyshkovsky’s remarks come days after Time Magazine reported that Russian president Vladimir Putin approved of the petro as a tool to evade U.S. sanctions, and described the process of launching the cryptocurrency as “a collaboration” between the two nations.”

Deputy director of the Information and Press Department of the Foreign Ministry Artyom Kozhin pushed back against the claims that Russian government officials aided Venezuela in developing the petro.

Further, Time reported that Russian billionaires Dennis Druzhkov and Fyodor Bogorodsky aided in the petro’s development.

However, this report is “fake news,” Kozhin claimed, saying that Russian financial authorities never “participated in this project,” adding that a meeting between Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov and Venezuelan minister of economy and finance Simon Zerpa was largely unrelated to cryptocurrencies.

Kozhin added:

“During the course of the meeting held on February 21, 2018 in Moscow, Venezuela’s Minister of Economy and Finance Mr. [Simon] Zerpa indeed handed over a booklet on the cryptocurrency to the Russian Finance Minister exclusively for the purpose of informing Russian partners about this project.”

The petro’s sale is ongoing, as previously reported. While Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro has made claims of raising more than $5 billion to date, the country has released no evidence to support these claims. It is unclear how much money the government has actually brought in to date.

On March 19, U.S. president Donald Trump signed new sanctions against the petro, legally codifying efforts to prevent Americans from investing in the controversial cryptocurrency.

Russian flag image via Shutterstock

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