Russia’s Sberbank installs ATMs in occupied Crimea, placing itself in US sanctions firing line

23 January, 10:47 AM
Russian Sberbank has installed ATMs in occupied Crimea (Photo:Maxim Shemetov / Reuters)

Russian Sberbank has installed ATMs in occupied Crimea (Photo:Maxim Shemetov / Reuters)

Russian state-run savings bank Sberbank has installed ATMs in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied territory of Crimea, the Russian news agency Interfax reported on Jan. 21.

The move could mean the bank will face more sanctions from the United States and its allies, which imposed sanctions on Russian banks that operate in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.

The ATMs were set up in mobile offices (cars) in the cities of Yalta, Sevastopol and Simferopol, as well as indoors in the village of Opolzneve, Interfax said.

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Sberbank previously announced it would launch operations in occupied Crimea. During 2023, the bank plans to expand its ATM network throughout the peninsula.

Sberbank also intends to gradually open its branches, with the first of them to start operating in the largest occupied cities in H1 2023.

Today, a limited number of banks are operating in the occupied Crimea and all of them have been sanctioned for many years.

The largest Russian banks have previously repeatedly stated they are not ready to open branches on the peninsula due to the imminent threat of harsh sanctions from the United States and the European Union.

Russia’s Sberbank also did not operate in the Crimea due to the sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union after Russia’s occupation of the peninsula back in 2014.

In 2017, Sberbank CEO Herman Gref said the bank’s operations in occupied Crimea “automatically means that we are subject to a very wide range of sanctions, which are not the only ones currently in place.”

The United States imposed sanctions on Sberbank in early April 2022. In June 2022, three large Russian banks, including Sberbank, were cut off from the SWIFT payment system following EU sanctions.

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