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EU freezes assets of 4 Russian banks

Four Russian banks are banned from doing any business in the EU under the bloc’s latest round of sanctions against Moscow for waging war against Ukraine.

The banks’ assets have also been frozen, according to a press release released Friday by the European Commission, which stopped short of naming the specific lenders. Those details will emerge in a few hours’ time, when EU officials have finished putting the final paperwork together. The banks have already been kicked off SWIFT, an international payment messaging platform that’s central to carrying out transactions.

This fifth round of sanctions, with another in the works, is Brussels’ latest effort to cut Russia out of the world’s financial markets and apply as much economic pain as possible. The targeted four lenders represent 23 percent of Russia’s banking industry. The package also includes an import ban on Russian coal and will block ships flying the Russian flag from entering European ports.

In addition, the EU is introducing new limits on crypto companies providing services to Russians in Europe amid concerns that oligarchs could use the market to move their wealth. The exact details will also come later. And wealth managers and financiers will be banned from giving advice to rich Russians.

Other measures include the end of financial support to Russian public bodies. Belarusian and Russian companies or individuals will also be banned from buying banknotes or transferrable securities, such as stocks and bonds, that are denominated in any of the EU’s official currencies.

“These latest sanctions were adopted following the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a Council statement. “The aim of our sanctions is to stop the reckless, inhuman and aggressive behaviour of the Russian troops and make clear to the decision-makers in the Kremlin that their illegal aggression comes at a heavy cost.”

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