(Reuters) – Russia, hit by Western sanctions, has called on the group of emerging economies BRICS to expand the use of national currencies and integrate payment systems, the finance ministry said on Saturday.

The sanctions have cut Russia off from the global financial system and almost half of its gold and currency reserves, which stood at $606.5 billion in early April.

On Friday, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told a ministerial meeting with the BRICS, which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, that the global economic situation had significantly improved. deteriorated due to the sanctions, the ministry statement said.

The new sanctions also destroy the foundations of the existing US dollar-based international monetary and financial system, Siluanov said.

“This pushes us to the need to accelerate work in the following areas: the use of national currencies for import-export operations, the integration of payment systems and cards, our own financial messaging system and the creation of an independent BRICS rating agency,” Siluanov said.

International payment cards Visa and MasterCard suspended operations in Russia in early March, and Russia’s largest banks lost access to the SWIFT global banking messaging system.

Russia has implemented its own banking messaging system, known as SPFS, as an alternative to SWIFT. Its own MIR card payment system started operating in 2015.

They were part of Moscow’s efforts to develop local financial tools to mirror Western tools, to protect the country in case sanctions against Moscow were expanded.

The Finance Ministry said BRICS ministers confirmed the importance of cooperation in efforts to stabilize the current economic situation.

“The current crisis is man-made, and the BRICS countries have all the necessary tools to mitigate its consequences on their economies and on the global economy as a whole,” Siluanov said.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely)