LONDON, July 23 (Reuters) - Lending to Ukraine and Russia by international banks fell sharply in the first three months of this year as geopolitical tensions in the region escalated and currency falls cut the value of loans, lending data showed.
Foreign loans to Russia fell to $209 billion at the end of March, down 7 percent from $225 billion at the end of December, according to data released on Wednesday by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which tracks cross-border bank lending. Lending to Ukraine dropped to $22 billion, down 14 percent from $25 billion.
BIS said much of the drop in the value of loans was due to the sharp depreciation of the value of the ruble and Ukrainian hryvnia against the U.S. dollar, however, as it reduces the dollar value of loans booked in local currencies.
Locational banking statistics on an exchange rate-adjusted basis showed international loans to Russia fell by $300 million in the quarter and dropped by $1.5 billion in Ukraine, BIS said. (Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Matt Scuffham)