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5 Jun 2024

The Moscow Times

Russia: VTB Bank to open branches in occupied Ukraine

Sanctioned VTB Bank to open branches in occupied Ukraine, 5 June 2024

Russia’s second-largest lender VTB Bank announced Tuesday that it plans to open new offices in occupied Ukraine this year.

“The bank will open two new branches in Luhansk in July and, by the end of the year, it plans to start customer service in Mariupol and Donetsk,” VTB said in a statement.

The three cities are located in eastern Ukraine’s Luhansk and Donetsk regions, which President Vladimir Putin annexed alongside the partially occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions in the fall of 2022.

VTB did not indicate whether it planned to expand into the latter two regions.

VTB was one of the first banks to be hit by Western sanctions and excluded from the SWIFT global payment system after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022...

VTB’s announcement comes months after President Vladimir Putin called on Russian banks to be “more proactive” in expanding to regions the Kremlin calls its “new territories.”

“Everything that was feared before the sanctions has already happened, so there is nothing to be afraid of,” Putin said in January...