dizzying spikes in prices for energy and food and could spook investors. The economic damage from supply disruptions and economic sanctions would be severe in some countries and industries and unnoticed in others.

Yet the central bank has just about $12 billion of cash in hand — an astonishingly small amount, he said. As for the rest of Russia’s foreign exchange reserves, roughly $400 billion is invested in assets held outside the country. Another $84 billion is invested in Chinese bonds, and $139 billion is in gold.

took steps on Monday to restore confidence, and more than doubled interest rates to 20 percent from 9.5 percent in order to offset the rapid depreciation of the ruble. The bank also released an additional $7 billion worth of reserves that had been set aside as collateral for loans and closed down the Moscow stock exchange for the day. Meanwhile, the foreign ministry moved to order companies to sell 80 percent of their foreign currencies, in a bid to gin up demand for rubles and prevent them from stockpiling dollars and euros.

Mr. Bernstam warned that the West’s attack on the Russian ruble needed to be handled with care. “We don’t want to destroy them,” he said. “We don’t want the political system to collapse.”

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