Update; things changed last week, compared to the earlier US position; the US Treasury has now stopped a Russian bond payment:
April 5 (Reuters) - The United States stopped the Russian government on Monday from paying holders of its sovereign debt more than $600 million from reserves held at U.S. banks, in a move meant to ratchet up pressure on Moscow and eat into its holdings of dollars.
Under sanctions put in place after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, foreign currency reserves held by the Russian central bank at U.S. financial institutions were frozen.
But the Treasury Department had been allowing the Russian government to use those funds to make coupon payments on dollar-denominated sovereign debt on a case-by-case basis.
On Monday, as the largest of the payments came due, including a $552.4 million principal payment on a maturing bond, the U.S. government decided to cut off Moscow's access to the frozen funds, according to a U.S. Treasury spokesperson.
The move was meant to force Moscow to make the difficult decision of whether it would use dollars that it has access to for payments on its debt or for other purposes, including supporting its war effort, the spokesperson said. [...]
JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), which had been processing payments as a correspondent bank so far, was stopped by the Treasury, a source familiar with the matter said.
So now Russia wants and has tried to pay in rubles instead, which would constitute a default (paying interest in non-agreed currency). They have a grace period to remedy this situation though.
Russia managed to avoid the default because the US agreed to let those payments happen. They were made from "frozen" accounts. As CNN related it on March 17:
Anton Siluanov, Russia's finance minister, told state media Russia Today that the country had made good on its obligations to creditors. > But the "possibility or impossibility of fulfilling our obligations in foreign currency does not depend on us," Siluanov said, according to RT, warning that the payment might not go through if the United States disallows it.
"We have the money, we made the payment, now the ball is in America's court," he said.
A spokesman for the Treasury said the United States would allow the payments to go through.
The two coupons Russia must pay on the maturing dollar-denominated eurobonds serve as the first test of Russia's ability to pay its debts while the world heaves massive sanctions on its economy.
If the US blocked the payment, Russia said it would try to pay in rubles rather than dollars. But that action could constitute a default, Fitch Ratings said Tuesday.
So, there's your answer for now.
Yeah, the people holding the debt are mostly Western investors, I suspect, so that probably weighted in on the decision, but details on that aspect are a bit scarce, at the moment. According to Fox Business citing the WJS, the money was payed from the correspondent account that the Central Bank of Russia has with JPMorgan Chase to Citibank, London, which further distributed them to the (unspecified) dollar-denominated eurobond holders. Furthermore, according to Fox, it seems the US Treasury has said that the current sanctions don't prohibit debt payments:
The Treasury Department has said that current U.S. sanctions do not prevent Russia from making debt payments.