Standard & Poor’s placed Russia’s sovereign debt on CreditWatch with negative implications, indicating Russia could lost its already tenuous grasp on its investment-grade credit rating. In April 2014, Standard & Poor’s lowered its rating on Russian sovereign debt to BBB-, the lowest investment grade. [Risk and Reward With Russia ETFs]

However, some market observers believe fears of a Russian default are overstated.

“Russia’s current foreign debt is not large: $731 billion, or about 34% of Russia’s annual GDP. Direct government debt is $73 billion and state-owned banks and corporations owe an additional $304 billion. By international standards this is benign. U.S. external debt is close to 100% of GDP, for example. In consideration of Russia’s $478 billion currency reserves, accumulated over the past decade, it seems absurd to worry about default,” said Research Affiliates in a research note out Monday.

Market Vectors Russia ETF