Biden administration briefs banks on possible Russian sanctions: report

The Biden administration has spoken with the country’s largest banks this week about possible sanctions against Russia amid concerns over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, Bloomberg first reported.

The talks included Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, the outlet reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Senior administration officials and members of the National Security Council (NSC) reportedly spoke with executives from the major companies.

The NSC declined to preview any specific engagements but told The Hill the administration has been clear that it is looking at a range of options “to deliver severe costs to the Russian economy” if Russia invades Ukraine.

“Assessing potential spillovers and exploring ways to reduce those spillovers is good governance and standard practice. Any details in this regard that make their way to the public only demonstrate the extensive detail and seriousness with which we are discussing and are prepared to impose significant measures with our allies and partners – including actions we did not pursue in 2014,” a NSC spokesperson said, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The White House has warned that a Russian invasion in Ukraine could happen at any moment as Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine. President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday and reaffirmed the readiness of the U.S. and allies to “respond decisively if Russia further invades Ukraine.” 

Only Citigroup has sizable interests in Russia, with about $5.5 billion worth of loans, investment securities and other assets tied to Russia, which equates to 0.3 percent of its total assets, Bloomberg reported. It also is the only U.S. bank with operations in Ukraine. 

Citigroup announced in April it would leave its retail-banking operations in multiple countries, including Russia.