Crimeans should pay off their debts to Ukrainian banks despite now living under Russian law, a Russian Central Bank official was quoted as saying, marking a change in position by Moscow which had suggested ignoring any payment demands.

Reuters reported last week that thousands of Crimeans were not paying their debts to Ukrainian banks, with many taking their cue from Russian President Vladimir Putin who in April told one resident wondering how to pay off a car loan: “Please use the car and don’t worry.”

His spokesman later said Putin was referring to the fact that the banks’ branches had closed in Crimea since Russia annexed the peninsula in March, making it difficult to pay.

Mikhail Sukhov, a deputy chairman at Russia’s Central Bank, said Monday that Crimean residents’ debts to Ukrainian banks would eventually have to be paid off.

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