Austria backs EU Russia sanctions after Ukraine removes Raiffeisen from blacklist

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Austria has given its approval to a 12th package of EU sanctions on Russia after Ukraine removed Raiffeisen Bank International from a blacklist, Ukraine’s government website and an EU diplomat said on Saturday.

Austria had been pushing to remove the bank from a Ukrainian list dubbed “international sponsors of war” – which sets out to shame companies doing business in Russia and supporting the war effort by, for instance, paying taxes.

“Austria’s sanctions reservation is lifted,” an EU diplomat said.

The blacklist has no legal standing, but it is symbolically important, reinforcing public pressure on Raiffeisen to quit Russia, something the Austrian bank has said it is willing to do but which has yet to happen.

“The status is suspended for the period of bilateral consultations involving representatives of the European Commission,” the Ukrainian government website said on Raiffeisen’s status on Saturday.

Austria had wanted Raiffeisen removed from the blacklist in return for signing off on the latest EU sanctions package against Russia.

Raiffeisen had intended to spin off its Russian business, which provides a payment lifeline to hundreds of companies there, after coming under pressure from international regulators.

(Reporting by Julia Payne; Editing by Andrew Heavens)