* Sberbank says has resources to continue successful work
* VTB, Sberbank criticise measures
(Recasts to add Sberbank response, Moody's comment, background
; in paragraphs 1-4, 7-10, and 14-16)
By Thomas Grove and Oksana Kobzeva
MOSCOW, July 31 Russia's three largest banks
sought to assure clients and investors on Thursday they had the
resources necessary to fulfil obligations despite their
inclusion on the EU's latest round of sanctions for Russia's
role in the Ukraine crisis.
Russia's largest lender Sberbank as well as the
country's second and third largest banks, VTB and
Gazprombank, criticised the EU sanctions but largely
dismissed the measures that cut them off from raising funding on
the bloc's capital markets.
Sberbank said Brussels' decision to include it on a
sanctions list "violates the foundations of the global finance
system" as it has no ties to geopolitics and has observed all
Western banking standards.
"Sberbank has all the necessary resources, management
experience and expertise to continue working successfully under
the circumstances and to unconditionally fulfil all of its
obligations in full to Russian and international clients and
partners," the statement said.
Marking a fundamental shift in how Europe deals with Russia,
the sanctions bar EU nationals and companies from buying or
selling new bonds, equity or other financial instruments with a
maturity of more than 90 days issued by major state-owned
Russian banks or entities acting on their behalf.
The ban lists five targeted banks: Sberbank, VTB Bank,
Gazprombank, Vnesheconombank (VEB) and Russian Agriculture Bank
Moody's rating agency, commenting on the new rounds of
sanctions from the United States and the EU, said the measures
are unlikely to cause an immediate liquidity crisis but will add
to factors already weighing on a Russian economy facing
stagnation this year and next.
Europe had been more hesitant to introduce new sanctions on
Russia until the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 two
weeks ago, which the West says was almost certainly shot down by
Russian-backed rebels using a Russian-supplied missile.
VTB echoed Sberbank's criticisms of the decision and
suggested that European politicians had acted under influence
"These decisions are incompatible with the core principles
and values of the free market, and discriminate against VTB as
well as international investors," the bank said in a statement.
"Despite the sanctions that have been imposed, VTB Bank and
all its subsidiaries continue to operate as usual, honouring all
obligations to investors and shareholders,"
Russia's third largest bank, Gazprombank, which is 36
percent owned by Russian natural gas company Gazprom,
said the sanctions would not affect the lender's stability.
"The imposition of sanctions by the European Union on a
number of Russian companies and banks will not hurt the
financial resilience and stable work of Gazprombank," it said in
VTB and Gazprombank have been prompted to look to Asian
markets for new funding but investors there have proven
reluctant, leaving the Russian central bank as one of the few
Russia's central bank said on Wednesday it was ready to
provide banks affected by western sanctions with liquidity
through existing instruments if they face additional risks.
Russia's Foreign Ministry had already criticised the
sanctions as "destructive and short-sighted" and warned the
measures could bring higher energy prices for Europe, which
counts on Russia for around a quarter of its gas needs.
The EU sanctions were announced after the market close.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Keiron
Henderson, Toni Reinhold and Mohammad Zargham)