Moscow Exchange abruptly halts trading as technical issues surge in Russia

Trading on Russia’s stock exchange was abruptly halted on Tuesday due to technical issues, authorities said.

The Moscow Exchange, the largest exchange group in Russia, was halted at 1:58 p.m. Moscow time (5:58 a.m. ET). The platform said that trading on the stock market would resume at 3:45 p.m. Moscow time. Newsweek has contacted Russia’s Foreign Ministry for comment by email.

Part of the issue is that Russia has relied on Western microchips to power items such as laptops and smartphones. However, sanctions imposed on the country following Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine have meant the Kremlin has faced obstacles in procuring foreign-made chips and is now attempting to ramp up domestic production.

The Moscow Exchange said the issue was caused by a hardware error on the main server. “According to the exchange’s procedures, in case of such an error occurring, a switch to the backup server is carried out, which takes a little over an hour,” it said in a statement.

The Moscow Exchange previously halted trading for four hours on September 13, 2023. Earlier, in 2015, the trading platform experienced 11 simultaneous failures caused by technical issues.

People walk past a currency exchange office in central Moscow on February 24, 2022. Trading on Russia’s stock exchange was abruptly halted on Tuesday due to technical issues, authorities said.

ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images

Independent Russian news outlet The Moscow Times reported on Tuesday that technical issues surged in Russia last year, driven by Western sanctions imposed in response to President Vladimir Putin‘s war in Ukraine.

Mikhail Sizov is managing partner of Mobius Technologies, a Russian technology consulting firm. He told local publication Kommersant that demand from Russian companies for the repair of hard drives, tape drives, controllers, motherboards and other components of foreign computer equipment increased fivefold in 2023, compared to the previous year.

“Last year, 80 percent of our requests for repairs occurred in the second half of the year. We plan to develop this area by expanding the list of components that we can restore,” Sizov told the outlet. He added that he believed this surge was linked to “sanctions pressure and problems in the logistics of equipment supplies.”

Sizov said there is a lack of spare parts in the Russian market, and many crucial components are sold at an inflated price.

In September 2023, Kommersant published a government document that said Russia won’t be able to ditch critical Western technology any time soon, despite the fact that Russian officials are asking that the use of microchips from the West be phased out by 2035.

Kommersant said it would cost at least 400 to 500 billion rubles ($4.4 billion to $5.5 billion) to expand the production of microchips in the country at a volume that will compensate for the industry’s current shortage.

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