Austria is seeking to have Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) removed from a Ukrainian blacklist of companies supporting Russia’s war effort in exchange for Austria’s support of additional EU sanctions against Russia, Reuters reports, citing two unnamed sources familiar with the situation.
“We find it unfair that we are on the list,” an RBI spokesperson stated. The bank is the only Austrian company on Ukraine’s “international sponsors of war” blacklist, which aims to shame firms still operating and paying taxes in Russia.
Reuters reports that Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg openly criticized the Ukrainian blacklist at an October meeting of European ministers in Kyiv. Austrian officials have also raised concerns about the list with EU representatives in Brussels in recent weeks, according to three unnamed sources.
RBI itself has met with Ukraine’s National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NACP), which compiles the blacklist, to discuss getting removed. In September, NACP temporarily
the status of the Hungarian OTP Bank and 5 Greek shipping companies from the list of international war sponsors. The decision aimed to break Hungary’s blockade of 500 million euros (about $530 mn) in EU military aid for Ukraine.
The push to delist RBI underscores Austria’s close economic ties with Russia, built over decades. While Austria publicly backs Ukraine, officials admitted anonymously that they remain reluctant to fully cut long-standing relations with Moscow.
With $15 billion in assets, RBI is Russia’s biggest Western bank and provides a vital conduit for international payments. According to one source, Russian authorities want RBI to remain in the country.
RBI had planned to spin off its Russian unit due to international regulatory pressure, but key Austrian leaders are actively trying to counter demands for RBI’s exit.
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