To isolate Moscow, US could sanction banks with links to Russia

WASHINGTON D.C.: Reuters has reported that in an effort by Western countries to further isolate Moscow, the US could sanction more banks with links to Russia and increase its enforcement of related rules.

For the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24th February, Western officials are currently discussing a new group of proposed sanctions.

James O’Brien, head of the US State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination, told Reuters, "We have immobilized about 80 percent of the assets in the Russian banking sector."

"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," he added.

Soon after Moscow invaded Ukraine, several Russian banks lost access to the international SWIFT payments system , with Sberbank and VTB being forced to close their operations across Europe.

Western governments also froze Russian central bank reserves worth some $300 billion.

However, some European banks, including UniCredit and Raiffeisen Bank International, still have large businesses in Russia, while Gazprombank, the financial arm of Russian gas exporter Gazprom, has escaped sanctions as it handles payments for energy.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has called for more sanctions, including restrictions on Russia’s nuclear sector, but Hungary has already said it would veto any related moves.

The US would step up enforcement, while the EU also hopes to improve its efforts, O’Brien said.

"We are now looking at how sanctions, including financial sanctions, can be most effective. We will see additional measures to increase the intensity of enforcement actions. We are always looking to see which companies and parties could benefit from financial transactions linked to Russia," he added.