BONN, Germany—Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. would likely prevent U.S. investors from receiving payments on Russian debt, a decision that could push Russia toward default.

Currently, the U.S. has carved out an exemption, set to expire on May 25, in its sanctions campaign against Russia to allow for sovereign debt payments. Without it in place, banks and investors won’t be able to process and receive bond payments made by the Kremlin, likely prompting Russia’s first default on its foreign debts since 1918.

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