President Vladimir Putin has called for greater use of the ruble in Russian oil deals and criticized continued use of the U.S. dollar. The Russian leader spoke out on Tuesday and proposed the move which appears to be aimed at strengthening the severely weakened Russian currency while also reducing the country’s dependence on the dollar, according to RT. Due to tumbling world oil prices the ruble has lost almost half of its value against the dollar in the past 12 months. Oil is Russia’s main export, but the country has also suffered due to Western sanctions imposed after the Ukraine conflict and a sharp economic downturn at home.

The idea that oil deals should be paid for in rubles and other non-dollar currencies such as the Chinese yuan have been proposed by Russian officials in the past. The idea is to reduce Russia’s reliance on the Western financial system. “I would like to mention one crucial issue in the development of the energy industry, and the economy as a whole. It is a question of finally stopping the use of foreign currency in internal trade,” said Putin at the fuel and energy presidential commission on TuesdayFULL REPORT