Member state says EU is ‘delusional’ pushing to ‘decouple’ from Russia — RT Business News
Austrian Alexander Schallenberg defended Raiffeisen Bank for its activities in Europe’s largest country
Russia will always remain important to the European Union, Austria’s foreign minister told Reuters on Wednesday. Alexander Schallenberg was answering questions about Raiffeisen Bank’s continued operations in the sanctioned country.
The diplomat made the comments after the US government last month launched an investigation into the Austrian lender over its relationship with Russia.
“Let’s be realistic,” he said. “91% of Western companies are still in Russia and doing what makes sense: wait, confine, close.”
Raiffeisen Bank International is Austria’s second largest lender and, despite sanctions, still plays a vital role in the Russian economy. It is one of only two foreign banks on the Russian central bank’s list of 13 systemically important credit institutions. The other is UniCredit, a pan-European commercial bank.
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“To think that there will be no more Russia and that we can decouple in all areas is delusional,” he added. Schallenberg told Reuters, adding that if Austria loosens ties, this “It can’t happen overnight.”
Schallenberg also discouraged Europe from introducing new sanctions against Russia.
“It’s a very blunt weapon”, he said. “We had massive sanctions packages. Give them time to work.
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