1) From Brad Setser's blog about Russia's financial state in June:
"[...] at the end of June 2008, Russia’s government has about $600 billion in foreign assets and less than $50 billion in foreign debts. Russian banks and firms by contrast had about $450 billion in foreign debts."
2) Bloomberg sees more throwing good money after bad and at double speed:
Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Russia’s central bank probably doubled spending of foreign reserves to defend the ruble from its biggest weekly plunge against the euro in more than four years, according to the median of 10 analyst estimates.
Bank Rossii may have sold $5.75 billion of foreign currency last week, based on the average of predictions ranging between $2 billion and $6.5 billion. That’s likely to contribute to a decline of about $6.25 billion in Russia’s overall cash pool, compared with $3.6 billion in the previous week, the survey by Bloomberg shows.
Russia lifted interest rates twice last month and drained $148 billion from the world’s third-largest reserves since August to stem a 16 percent currency slide against the dollar. BNP Paribas SA estimates that investors withdrew $190 billion since August as oil prices below the $70-a-barrel average needed to balance the 2009 budget triggered Russia’s worst financial crisis since the government’s default a decade ago.
3) Russian banking and manufacturing (oligarch) sector bailout machine is in place:
The FINANCIAL -- According to RIA Novosti, Russia's national development bank Vnesheconombank (VEB) has made a decision to refinance foreign liabilities of commercial banks, Central Bank First Deputy Chairman Alexei Ulyukayev said on November 30.4) Capital controls are tightened:
In particular, the Central Bank has granted $50 billion to VEB to extend subordinated loans to domestic businesses to help them refinance their foreign liabilities.
In October, VEB granted around $10 billion to refinance the foreign debts of energy companies, metals producers, and construction, transport and communications firms.
If Bloomberg's assertion about Russia's central bank doubling the spending of foreign reserves in support of the ruble is true and oil doesn't climb up very soon to above $80/bbl (which doesn't look very probable), a simple and crude math would tell that Russia:
MOSCOW, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Russia set the daily limit for currency swap operations with the central bank at 10 billion roubles ($357.9 million) on Tuesday, the same as in the previous trading session.
Limits on how much foreign currency banks can swap for roubles in the central bank were introduced from Oct. 20 in a bid to hinder currency speculators. Operations which do not involve the central bank are unaffected. ($1=27.94 Rouble)
a) has already passed the point of no return;
b) has only about about 3-6 months until a 1998 style collapse.
Actually this time it may be far worse than the 1998 collapse, but that's a subject for another blog entry.