July 30, 2014 / 9:20 AM / 3 years ago

Russia's VTB calls Western sanctions "unjust", "politically-motivated"

MOSCOW, July 30 (Reuters) - VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank by assets, called sanctions imposed by the United States “politically motivated” and “unjust” on Wednesday but said it was confident it could raise capital if needed.

The United States put sanctions on VTB, Bank of Moscow and Russian Agriculture Bank on Tuesday over Moscow’s support for rebels in Ukraine, expanding the list of Russian banks subject to U.S. sanctions to almost all its largest under more than 50 percent of state ownership, except for Sberbank.

Moscow denies supporting the rebels fighting Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine.

“We consider the decision to be politically motivated, unjust, legally dubious and likely to cause economic harm to all sides,” VTB said in a statement.

“We are confident that we will continue to be able to attract funds as and when needed,” it said.

The sanctions on the three banks prohibit U.S. citizens or companies from dealing with debt carrying maturities longer than 90 days, or with new equity.

The European Union also reached agreement on Tuesday on the bloc’s first broad economic sanctions on Russia over its role in Ukraine, diplomats said, marking a new phase in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

The measures will shut major state-owned Russian banks out of European capital markets and target the defence sector and sensitive technologies, including oil, but exclude the vital gas sector, on which Europe is heavily dependent.

VTB has operations in London and New York but did not give immediate comment on what would happen to them. (Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva; Writing by Lidia Kelly and Megan Davies, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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