"Such payments [in the yuan] are useful for the trade as a whole… given quite big volumes of Russian-Chinese oil agreements, avoiding [payments in the US] dollar allows to decrease financial risks related to the fluctuation of currency exchange rates and other changes," Xu Qinhua said.
Following a deterioration of Russia's relations with the West over the Ukrainian conflict, Moscow increased economic cooperation within BRICS, the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. Russia and China are working to increase the frequency of mutual payments in rubles and yuan.
Late in May, the deputy chairman of Russia’s VTB Bank management board, Mikhail Oseevskiy, said that in the first quarter of 2015 the volume of currency exchange operations "ruble to yuan" saw a six-fold increase to the same period in 2014.
According to Oseevskiy, this and an increase in bank accounts opened in yuan signify that more Russian and Chinese companies are switching to mutual payments in the Chinese currency.
The decision to switch to national currencies in mutual trade was first announced in 2010 by then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. After the announcement, the central banks of both countries struck a deal allowing bilateral trade in the ruble and the yuan, as well as in freely convertible currency.