Russia mulls lawsuit against U.S. in WTO over sanctions

MOSCOW Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:25am EDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev during their meeting in Novo-Ogaryovo, June 24, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) speaks with Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev during their meeting in Novo-Ogaryovo, June 24, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is looking at the possibility of filing a lawsuit against the United States in the World Trade Organisation over sanctions hitting Russian banks, Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Wednesday, according to Russian news agencies.

St Petersburg-based Bank Rossiya was sanctioned alongside its chairman and largest shareholder Yuri Kovalchuk in March as part of punitive measures by Washington over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Russian bank SMP was also indirectly affected as co-owners Boris Rotenberg and his older brother Arkady fell under U.S. sanctions. SMP chief executive Dmitry Kalantyrsky has said that an estimated 9 billion rubles ($249 million) had been withdrawn after the sanctions were imposed.

"The WTO gives us some additional possibilities," Ulyukayev was quoted by Interfax as saying on Wednesday. "We at the WTO council in Geneva talked about the possibility of filing lawsuits against the U.S. over the sanctions against Russian banks and we hope to use the mechanism of the WTO to keep our partners in check regarding this issue."

In an April 9 bulletin on its website detailing a meeting regarding the council for trade in goods, the WTO said that Russia had expressed concern about a recent Executive Order signed by U.S. President Barack Obama regarding "listed persons of Russian Federation whose bank accounts were blocked".

Russia was "closely monitoring the effect of this measure on Russian operators and on the potential violation of WTO Agreements" and "urged other members not to be drawn to political motivations when it comes to trade," the WTO statement said.

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it anticipates more Ukraine-related sanctions on Russia but suggested no action was likely before a diplomatic meeting in Geneva this week.

($1 = 36.1340 Russian Rubles)

(Reporting by Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Comments (9)
WestFlorida wrote:
This strategy is a waste of time for Russia. The best option would be to back off and be happy with stealing only the Crimea.

Apr 16, 2014 8:26am EDT  --  Report as abuse
yrbmegr wrote:
Does the WTO recognize the “clean hands” doctrine?

Apr 16, 2014 10:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
UauS wrote:
lawsuit? funny. anything that implies law doesn’t apply to Putin’s Russia.

“The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, … to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

Apr 16, 2014 10:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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