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14 Ara 2023

John O'Donnell, Reuters

Austria allegedly blocks Russian sanctions over Raiffeisen Bank's inclusion in Ukrainian list of intl. war sponsors


Exclusive: Austria blocks Russian sanctions over Raiffeisen blacklisting - sources, 14 December 2023

Austria is seeking to have Raiffeisen Bank International, the biggest Western bank in Russia, struck off a Ukrainian blacklist in return for signing off fresh European Union sanctions on Russia, said two people familiar with the situation.

Austria and the bank wants it to be taken off a Ukrainian list dubbed "international sponsors of war" - which sets out to shame companies doing business in Russia and supporting the war effort by, for instance, paying taxes...

Although Austria publicly supports Ukraine, several officials who spoke to Reuters have said they are reluctant to completely sever decades-old ties with Russia, thinking it will still be possible to restore relations.

Earlier in October, Austria's foreign minister, Alexander Schallenberg, openly criticised that blacklist as arbitrary at a meeting of European ministers in Kyiv, said one person briefed on those discussions...

Austrian officials have flagged their concern about the list in Brussels, including at meetings of EU officials and diplomats in recent weeks, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

Bank envoys also met representatives of Ukraine's National Agency of Corruption Prevention, which draws up the list, to discuss how to get the group off it, people familiar with the matter said.

Some companies have been taken off, including Hungary's OTP Bank after the government pushed for its removal, a move that irked Austrian officials and the bank.

"We find it unfair that we are on the list," said a spokesperson for the bank.

The Austrian chancellery said legal documents concerning the EU sanctions had been presented on Tuesday, declining to comment further...

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