On the night of 24 February 2022, the Russian government launched a military strike against Ukraine, threatening Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence after initially recognising the independence of the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The governments of many states, as well as the European Union, have strongly condemned the actions and responded with swift sanctions programmes that have been expanded in recent days since the first attack.

With our overview, our aim is to present the sanctions programmes that have been imposed since the declaration of independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions by President Putin and the subsequent military attack on Ukraine.

Our sanctions team is monitoring the situation very closely. Should you require assistance in relation to the newly imposed sanctions or a review of your current engagement, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Current developments

  • The European Central Bank (ECB) issued a press release regarding the European subsidiary of PJSC Sberbank, Sberbank Europe AG, with its registered office in Austria. The ECB explained that the subsidiary is failing or likely to fail. In addition, the ECB instructed the competent Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) to impose a moratorium for the termination of transactions that exceed a narrowly defined limit. On 2 March 2022, Sberbank Europe AG informed the FMA that the subsidiary is not in a position to service its current liabilities and will therefore discontinue its business.
  • The credit card companies Visa, Mastercard and American Express have excluded Russian banks from their network.
  • The Frankfurt Stock Exchange, the London Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange have suspended trading in securities affected by sanctions against Russia. This is to include both bonds and equities.
  • OFAC has published an FAQ confirming that non-US persons are generally not at risk of being subject to US sanctions under EO 14024 if they conduct business with persons subject to the prohibitions in the EO 14024 guidelines. However, this does not apply in cases of evasion. The same applies to petroleum imports subject to EO 14066: provided that no petroleum is imported into the US and no other sanctions are violated, non-US persons are not affected by US sanctions.

European Union

The European Union has so far imposed the following sanctions:

Sanctioned persons and organisations

  • Various officials and members of the Duma in connection with the events in Donetsk and Luhansk
  • Various individuals and organisations responsible for endangering the sovereignty of Ukraine
  • Various individuals identified as close allies of President Putin or the Russian government, including oligarchs
  • Members of the current Russian government, including Vladimir Putin, Sergei Lavrov (Foreign Minister) and Sergei Shoigu (Defence Minister)
  • Banks and other business entities that are considered important players in the Russian financial services sector
  • Organisations identified as responsible for the situation in Ukraine

Central Bank of the Russian Federation

Transactions in connection with the management of reserves and assets of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, including transactions with legal persons, entities or bodies acting on behalf of or at the direction of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, are prohibited.

The participation, knowingly or with intent, in activities, the object or effect of which is to circumvent prohibited transactions with the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, is also prohibited.

Loans

Loans with certain persons are prohibited after 26 February 2022. This concerns large banks such as VTB Bank, Sberbank and Gazprombank, as well as smaller entities such as Alfa Bank or Promsvyazbank, as well as the non-EU subsidiaries of these banks if they hold 50% or more of the shares in these subsidiaries. The regulation contains exemptions as well as transitional provisions.

Capital market

In addition, the prohibition on trading in certain transferable securities was extended. This also affects the provision of investment services. Transferable securities within the meaning of the regulation also includes crypto securities.

Export prohibitions

The prohibition on selling or exporting goods to Russia was extended. The prohibition applies to dual-use goods, goods for use in aviation and shipping, and certain technology goods.

SWIFT

The European Union, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, has imposed prohibitions to restrict certain Russian banks’ access to financial intelligence services such as the SWIFT interbank communications system. The SWIFT organisation had announced in a press release on 1 March 2022 that it would implement the measures as soon as it received legal instructions. The restriction affects the following banks:

  • Bank Otkritie
  • Novikombank
  • Promsvyazbank
  • Bank Rossiya
  • Sovcombank
  • VNESHECONOMBANK (VEB)
  • VTB BANK

Belarus

A large number of sanctions were also imposed on Belarus:

  • Prohibition on transactions related to the Central Bank of Belarus
  • Prohibition on accepting deposits in excess of EUR 100,000 from Belarusian nationals and legal entities established in Belarus
  • Exclusion of three banks from the SWIFT system:
    • Belagroprombank
    • Bank Dabrabyt
    • Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus

United Kingdom

Sanctioned persons and organisations

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has included various individuals and financial institutions in the Consolidated List. Assets of these persons and entities are frozen. Oligarchs as well as banks and industrial companies were included. Furthermore, a measure was introduced whereby ships and aircrafts of the sanctioned persons may be detained.

Capital market

OFSI has also extended the prohibition against trading in certain financial instruments. This prohibition concerns, inter alia, financial instruments of the following business entities: Gazprombank, Rosneft and VTB Bank.

United States of America (USA)

In the US, the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has also adopted several restrictive measures.

Sanctioned individuals and organisations

  • Nord Stream 2 AG
  • Various government representatives from the Russian administration, including the president, foreign minister and defence minister
  • Various banks and financial services companies, including: VTB Bank, Sberbank and VEB Bank
  • The Central Bank of the Russian Federation
  • Various organisations from Russia’s defence and technology sector
  • Various close allies and oligarchs from around President Putin

Correspondent banking transactions

OFAC has also issued Directive 2 to the existing Executive Order ("EO") 14024, which prohibits the opening or maintenance of a correspondence account or a payment transaction account for certain banks. In addition, the settlement of transactions with certain foreign financial institutions is prohibited. The affected banks include Sberbank and its subsidiaries.

Capital market

OFAC has issued a new Directive 1A on EO 14024 prohibiting participation in the primary and secondary markets and lending in conjunction with three Russian entities, including the Central Bank of the Russian Federation.

OFAC has also expanded existing sanctions programmes against the Russian financial services sector with Directive 3 to EO 14024, which prohibits transactions related to debt securities or stocks or related to ownership or corporate interests of certain business entities. This concerns various business entities, including Sberbank, Gazprom and Gazprombank, Alfa-Bank and Rosneft, among others.

Central Bank of the Russian Federation

Pursuant to Policy 4, any transaction involving the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, the National Property Fund of the Russian Federation or the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, including the transfer of assets to these entities or any foreign exchange transactions for or on behalf of these entities, is prohibited.

Prohibition on oil imports

Under the newly introduced EO 14066, petroleum imports are prohibited, as are further investments in Russia’s energy sector.

Settlement period and exceptions

All newly introduced restrictions are accompanied by several general licenses ("GLs") that provide for settlement periods or exceptions for certain goods (e.g. medicines related to the COVID pandemic) or certain types of transactions (derivatives, transactions with the energy sector).

Switzerland

The government of Switzerland has adopted the sanctions measures of the European Union and implemented sanctions measures targeting the export of certain prohibited goods and capital market measures, as well as a prohibition on financing activities with certain maturities.

Other jurisdictions

The governments of Australia, Japan and Canada have also imposed sanctions in the wake of the Ukraine-Russia crisis.

Legal sources and relevant links

Your contacts

*This contact can offer you support in collaboration with KPMG Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH. The legal services will be provided by KPMG Law Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft mbH.