Major Russian banks hit by sanctions

Washington has expanded penalties against Sberbank and Alfa Bank 

The US expanded full blocking sanctions on Wednesday against Russia’s state lender Sberbank and one of the country’s largest private lenders, Alfa Bank.

“Today, we’re dramatically escalating the financial shock by imposing full blocking sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank,” a senior administration official told reporters.

The latest move has “completely blocked two-thirds of the Russian banking sector, which used to have $1.4 trillion in assets,” they said.

Sberbank and Alfa Bank have become subjects of full blocking sanctions for the first time, albeit with exemptions for energy purchases.

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The new measures, which are projected to “slash Russia’s GDP by double digits this year,” aim to increase economic pressure on Russia following the horrific images that emerged from the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

On Sunday, Kiev accused the Russian military of killing hundreds of civilians in the town, located on the outskirts of the capital.

The Kremlin has rejected the claim, accusing the Ukrainian authorities of staging another “provocation.” Moscow has called for an international investigation into the incident.

According to the White House, several major Russian state enterprises are also being placed under full blocking sanctions. Specific entities are expected to be announced later this week by the Treasury Department.

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