MOSCOW, April 16 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
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an estimated 9 billion roubles ($249 million) had been withdrawn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
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 Roubles)
(Reporting by Megan Davies; Additional reporting by Tom Miles
in Geneva; Editing by Giles Elgood)