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MOSCOW: The rouble edged past 75 to the dollar on Tuesday, touching its strongest level in nearly four weeks after the leaders of Russia and France held talks, with investors looking for signs of de-escalation in Moscow’s standoff with the West over Ukraine.

President Vladimir Putin said his first Moscow summit with a Western leader since Russia began massing troops near its neighbour had been substantive, while French President Emmanuel Macron said the coming days would be crucial.

But the Kremlin denied on Tuesday that Putin had promised Macron that Russia would stage no further manoeuvres near Ukraine for now, pouring cold water on a tentative French assertion of diplomatic progress.

By 1220 GMT, the rouble was 0.5% stronger against the dollar at 75.09, earlier touching 74.99, its strongest level since Jan. 13.

The rouble may try to test the 73-75 range against the greenback, Promsvyazbank analysts said.

The currency had gained 0.6% to trade at 85.79 versus the euro, also clipping its strongest since Jan. 13 earlier in the session.

The rouble has moved away from a near 15-month low of 80.4125 hit last month when Western powers threatened to impose more sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied having any such plans.

“Severe sanctions on Russia could have negative rating implications for the sovereign and banks,” Fitch Ratings said in a note. Though it does not anticipate a full-scale invasion, Fitch said tensions over Ukraine have increased the risk of conflict and more far-reaching sanctions.

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