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California Firefighters Make It Hard to Break Up With Russia

  • Calpers had about $460 million in Russian bonds as of end-June
  • U.S. senators are weighing sanctions on Russian sovereign debt
Ffirefighters keep watch over a home while the sun sets during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Ffirefighters keep watch over a home while the sun sets during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

An escalating war of words between Russia and the U.S. didn’t prevent a chunk of pensions that belong to Californian firefighters and police officers from finding its way into debt sold by President Vladimir Putin’s government.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, or Calpers, had about $460 million invested in Russian government bonds as of the end of June, up over 8 percent since last year, according to data provided to Bloomberg News. Based on publicly disclosed figures, that makes the state of California Russia’s 10th-largest foreign creditor, behind other top U.S. investors including BlackRock Inc. and Stone Harbor Investment Partners.