(QHA) -

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered that the government demand that Russia pay for goods imported from Belarus in a hard currency.

"The task has been set that we trade not for rubles but for dollars, because we pay for energy resources [imported from Russia] not in rubles but in dollars. By the way, this is a shortcoming in the government's work. We should have worked with Russia and demanded that they also pay us in a hard currency like dollars or euros a long time ago," Lukashenko said at a conference dealing with economic problems in Minsk on Thursday.

The Russian ruble faced intense selling pressure, falling at one stage by a whopping 20 percent to historic lows despite a massive pre-dawn interest rate hike from the country's central bank.

The surprise decision to raise the rate to 17 percent from 10.5 percent came in the middle of the night and represented a desperate attempt to prop up the troubled currency. The ruble has fallen sharply in recent weeks as a result of sliding oil prices as well as the impact of Western sanctions imposed over Russia's involvement in Ukraine.