The US Treasury and the State Department are quietly asking major banks, including JPMorgan and Citigroup, to not cut ties with Russia completely and continue working with selected strategic Russian companies, Bloomberg reports.
The banks are particularly urged to keep providing basic services (US dollar settlements, transactions, trade financing) to such companies as Gazprom, Uralkali, and PhosAgro.
According to the agency, the Biden administration is seeking to minimise the negative impact of the sanctions imposed on Moscow. The US authorities, Bloomberg writes, are trying to avoid a global economic catastrophe.
Many American banks have been cautious about doing business with Russian companies after Russia was slapped with sanctions, fearing that they might be sanctioned as well, the news agency notes. That is why the US authorities are trying to convince them to continue cooperating as part of their efforts to prevent mass hunger on the planet.
“Food security for the world critically relies on these authorized transactions to continue,” said Ambassador Jim O’Brien, head of the State Department’s Office of Sanctions Coordination. “We continue to clarify and also to reassure banks and others involved in agricultural trade that they are not part of the sanctions regime.”
JPMorgan and Citigroup, who earlier announced they were winding down their business operations in Russia, declined to comment. The US Treasury said that its guidelines for banks allow activities linked to humanitarian aid, energy, and agriculture.
In July, Kyiv called on major US and European banks to sever ties with companies who trade Russian oil. The letters were sent to American JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup, British HSBC, and France’s Credit Agricole.