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The U.S. May Take Further Action Against Banks Linked To Russia

The United States is likely to take further actions against banks with ties to Russia to prevent them from dodging the existing Western sanctions, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday. 

“We are looking at additional banks and financial institutions to see how Russia deals with the outside world. It is very possible that there will be more action,” James O’Brien, head of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, told Reuters.

Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year, the U.S. and the European Union sanctioned some of Russia’s biggest banks, froze billions of dollars worth of assets of the Russian central bank in Western countries, and cut much of Russia’s banking system from the global SWIFT system for payments.

However, Gazprombank, the bank of gas giant Gazprom, was spared from sanctions due to the handling of payments for energy imports into the EU. Some EU states, including Hungary and Italy, still receive Russian gas via pipeline.

The EU is now considering a tenth package of sanctions, aiming to present it by February 24, the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The U.S.’s O’Brien told Reuters, commenting on possible new measures from the West, “We are now looking at how sanctions, including financial sanctions, can be most effective.”

“We are always looking to see which companies and parties could benefit from financial transactions linked to Russia,” he added.

The EU is looking to force banks to report the Russian assets frozen in the EU, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing draft proposals of the tenth package of sanctions it had seen. The mandatory reporting of frozen Russian assets in the EU could be a step toward considering channeling some of the funds to Ukraine’s reconstruction.

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“Russia will also have to pay for the destruction it caused and will have to contribute to the reconstruction of Ukraine. Therefore, we are exploring with our partners how to use Russia's public assets to the benefit of Ukraine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Kyiv early this month.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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