Europe takes new measures against Russian banks

The European Commission has approved a new wave of sanctions against Russian banks. Four additional banks will be subject to asset freezes, including VTB, the country's second-largest bank. Sberbank, Russia's leading bank, has been spared by Brussels.

7 Russian banks subject to asset freeze

In the space of 7 weeks, the 27 member states of the European Union have finalized several waves of sanctions against Russia. This fifth round of sanctions, approved by the European Commission, increases the number of Russian banks subject to asset freezes from 3 to 7.

VTB, the country's second-largest state-owned bank, is now also affected by the sanctions, as are Otkritie Bank, Sovcombank and Novyikombank.

These four banks, which account for 23% of the Russian banking market, have had their assets frozen, and no Member State is authorized to provide them with funds or carry out transactions with them. The European subsidiaries of these banks are also affected by the sanctions.

Sberbank and Gazprombank escape European sanctions

From now on, all banks excluded from the Swift system are therefore also affected by these latest sanctions, bringing greater consistency to the measures taken by the 27 member states of the European Union.

On the other hand, while the United States has frozen the assets of Sberbank, Russia's main state-owned bank, and banned all transactions with American players, this is not the case in Europe, which has not yet imposed any sanctions.

Gazprombank, the banking subsidiary of gas giant Gazprom, is not affected by the sanctions either. And with good reason: it is the bank through which all payments from Russian gas buyers pass, before being converted into rubles in accordance with Vladimir Putin's requirements.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, European countries have paid 35 billion euros to Russia for their energy purchases.

As for Russia's leading private bank, Alfa Bank, which has subsidiaries in Cyprus and Luxembourg, it can continue to operate in Europe, but has been sanctioned by the USA in the same way as Sberbank.

Other financial sanctions have been approved by the European Commission, such as a ban on providing "high-value" cryptoasset services to Russia, or a ban on providing fiduciary advice to wealthy Russian nationals.