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How to play Russia's meltdown: Granville

Investing in Russia's meltdown

Russian President Vladimir Putin will address his country's currency crisis in a speech Thursday, giving investors who want to play the downturn guidance on whether it's time to buy in.

Investors were able to find opportunities in Russia during the 1998 and 2008 financial crises, and the same will be true today, Christopher Granville, Trusted Sources managing director, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

The key thing to listen for is softer rhetoric on Russia's conflict with Ukraine, he said. That is because the lifting of sanctions is the key driver for a rebound, and the conditions for that is a peace settlement on southeastern Ukraine.

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Russia is seen as supporting separatist rebels in Ukraine's Donbass region. The United States and Europe have responded with a series of escalating economic sanctions.

"The fundamental driver is geopolitical still. The oil price is a severe shock for Russia, but without these sanctions, it would not have had the effect of causing the meltdown that has now occurred," he said.

Granville noted that Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday commended Russia for taking constructive steps toward peace in the past two weeks.

While the bounce back in Russia will be dramatic, it will not be as quick and provide the kind of instant gains the rebound from crisis produced in the past, he said.

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That is because the Russian economy had tremendous pent-up growth potential in 1998 after losing half of its output after the collapse of the Soviet Union, he said. And in 2008, the whole world was rallying to stimulate, but now the globe is rallying against Russia.

Another difference from 2008: Saudi Arabia was pushing up oil prices by cutting output, said Granville. Today, the opposite is true, and oil prices have plunged nearly 50 percent this week from their highs in June.