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The US government has introduced full blocking sanctions against Russia’s Sberbank and Alfa-Bank in a bid to further isolate Moscow financially for its invasion of Ukraine.

Notably, Sberbank is Russia’s largest government-owned bank, while Alfa-Bank is among the key private players in the country.

A senior US official said: “We have sought to generate a financial shock by cutting off Russia’s largest banks and its central bank from doing any business with the US and freezing any of its assets that touch the US financial system or those of our allies.

“And today, we are dramatically escalating the financial shock by imposing full blocking sanctions on Russia’s largest financial institution, Sberbank, and its largest private bank, Alfa Bank.”

The new sanctions apply to 42 subsidiaries of Sberbank and six subsidiaries of Alfa-Bank.

“Sberbank is the main artery in the Russian financial system. By itself, it holds nearly one-third of Russia’s total banking sector assets; that is over $500bn. That is roughly twice the size of the second-largest Russian bank, which we previously fully blocked,” the official noted.  

With the latest sanctions in place, the US has now fully blocked more than two-thirds of the Russian banking sector, which, before the war began, held $1.4 trillion in assets.  

Concurrently, the US has announced a ban on new investment in Russia.

According to an Interfax report, the US authorities have given a deadline of 13 April to wind down all transactions with Sberbank.

While those transacting with Alfa-Bank have until 6 May to conclude operations with the bank.