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NBU’s Official Position: International Banks Must Finally Act on Their Promises and Exit Russian Market

NBU’s Official Position: International Banks Must Finally Act on Their Promises and Exit Russian Market

In conducting international activities, the NBU prioritizes the tightening of sanctions and external pressure on the aggressor’s economy. Sanctions imposed on russia and its ally belarus by countries participating in the sanctions coalition have been unprecedented, thanks to Ukraine’s proactive position. As the war grinds on, however, we continue to look for new ways to ramp up sanctions pressure on the aggressor, in cooperation with our international partners. 

The NBU has repeatedly communicated and held meetings with the international financial community, calling on the banking and insurance sector to stop doing business in russia and belarus. Such calls have been addressed to Raiffeisen Bank International, Intesa Sanpaolo, OTP Bank, ING Bank, and Credit Agricole. The NBU has met with the leadership and shareholders of these groups and received multiple assurances that they “continue to explore all strategic options for the future of their business in russia, including ways of exiting this market.” Eleven months into the war, the NBU has reassessed the situation and found that these groups have made no progress in making final decisions about leaving the russian market. We consider this unacceptable. 

The latest piece of news to appear in the public domain suggests that banks that are part of international financial groups have provided preferential lending conditions to the participants of the so-called “special military operation.” This comes as more evidence that the previously declared intentions differ from the actual state of affairs. These banks remain active participants in russia’s banking market and are competing to expand their loan portfolios. In their publications, these banks openly use the LPR and DPR names – as if they denoted standalone countries – and thus virtually tolerate russia’s brazen violation of international law.

We are once again publicly appealing to the management of international banking groups: be advised that by opting to stay in russia, you have chosen to support the aggressor and its war crimes. In addition to the moral aspects, such a policy comes into conflict with the official stances of the governments of the countries representing the free world, and undermines the large-scale support that people from these countries have provided to Ukrainians. In this regard, efforts to make profits in the aggressor state pose significant risks to the activities of these institutions in their main jurisdictions. The NBU will therefore request that the relevant governments and regulators initiate an appropriate response to the aforesaid actions of international financial groups. 

“Every day, we sum up the dismal losses the war has caused our country to suffer. Every morning, we observe a moment of silence to honor our fallen. Meanwhile, businesses that continue to operate in russia are summing up their earnings. It is time for international banks to finally follow through on the decisive pledges they made almost a year ago and exit the market of russia, a country that has its hands covered in Ukrainian blood up to the elbows. For reputable European companies, having any association at all with the terrorist state’s economy is toxic. War is a time to choose between profits and dignity,” said NBU Governor Andriy Pyshnyy.

As a team that protects the interests of Ukraine, we stand united on this issue and uphold the position of Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, who has made it clear that “international companies which remain working in russia are directly funding russian war crimes and genocide of Ukrainians.”

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