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Putin may go on ruble speculator witch hunt: Pro

Rumble over Russian ruble
Rumble over Russian ruble

Russian President Vladimir Putin is going to "lock somebody up" to send a message to currency speculators to stop targeting the crumbling ruble, former diplomat David Gordon told CNBC on Friday.

During his state of the nation speech Thursday, Putin vowed to punish currency speculators, though he provided no plan of action. He also promised reforms and blamed Moscow's troubles on the West.

"What the Russians are trying to do is protect their foreign exchange," Gordon said in a "Squawk Box" interview.

"I think Putin is going to really double down. I think he's going to try to find one or two speculators ... to arrest," added Gordon, president of International Capital Strategies. "It's going to potentially scare others domestically from betting against the ruble. [But] that's not going to stabilize the ruble."

On Friday, the ruble did firm somewhat against the dollar, after the Russian central bank said it spent nearly $2 billion this week to support the currency.

The recent plunge in oil prices has put increasing pressure on the ruble, which was already suffering under the weight of sanctions imposed by the West over Moscow's support for rebels in Ukraine. The Russian currency has fallen about 39 percent this year.

"Putin is at the phase of blaming the troubles on outsiders, blaming it on the West. We're entering actually a dangerous moment here," said Gordon, formerly of Eurasia Group, another firm that provides investment advice based on political risks around the globe.

Gordon added that he's also concerned that Putin may make a "more assertive military move" in Ukraine as a distraction from Russia's economic problems—a move to keep up his approval ratings, which have soared on his nationalist agenda pursuits.