DUBAI, April 29 The governments of Bahrain and
Russia have signed a deal to cooperate on investments, at a time
when U.S. and European governments are imposing economic
sanctions on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine.
Bahrain is a U.S. diplomatic ally in the Gulf, and its
decision suggests Western sanctions may not deter other
countries from continuing to expand business ties with Russia.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Russian Direct Investment
Fund (RDIF) said it had signed a memorandum of understanding
with Bahraini sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat to identify and
work together on investment opportunities in their countries.
Mumtalakat chief executive Mahmood al-Kooheji will join the
RDIF's international advisory board, helping to formulate its
strategic direction, the statement added.
The Bahraini fund is one of the smaller sovereign funds in
the Gulf, with $7.1 billion of assets as of last September. The
RDIF is a $10 billion fund created by Russia's government to
make equity investments, mainly in the Russian economy.
The official Bahraini News Agency confirmed the deal between
the funds, signed after a visit to Moscow by Crown Prince Salman
Bin Hamad al-Khalifa.
In addition, Bahrain's government has revised visa policies
to make it easier for Russian citizens to travel to the kingdom
on business, while Bahrain's national carrier Gulf Air will open
a direct route between Moscow and Manama, the agency said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the European Union announced asset
freezes and travel bans on 15 Russians and Ukrainians in
response to Moscow's actions in Ukraine. On
Monday, the United States imposed sanctions on seven Russians
and 17 companies linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Mark Heinrich)