Four U.S. senators are calling on the White House and the U.S. Treasury to name the Russian banks that are helping Syria in obviation of sanctions. VTB (VneshTorgBank) has called the initiative a provocation.
Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Cornyn (R-Tex) and Kelly Iott (R-NH) have signed a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Treasury calling on him to name the Russian banks that they suspect of financing the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Senator Blumental’s official website and other sources report.
Citing “numerous reports,” the senators write that “banks, such as VTB, VEB, and GazpromBank are doing business with Syria as usual, repeatedly undermining the sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union, and the United Nations.” According to their information, VneshEconomBank (VEB) is helping Syria to pay for C-300 missile systems, VTB is holding Al-Assad’s personal funds and GazpromBank is paying for oil. The senators believe that in this way the Russian banks are helping Syrian government forces to purchase weapons and wage war. They believe that the Russian banks are violating international sanctions against Syria and easing the financial pressure that is being exercised against the regime of Al-Assad. Therefore, in their opinion, the banks bear responsibility for the continuing violence in Syria.
In an interview with Politico, Senator Blumenthal suggested that the banks’ assets in the United States must be frozen, their operation there must be banned and trips by their officers to the U.S. must be limited.
There are no accounts of Syria’s leadership in the VTB group, an official press release of the financial organisation says. “The statement by the four U.S. senators amounts to spreading totally unreliable information,” VTB has said. The bank called the four U.S. officials “irresponsible” and their letter, a provocation the objective of which is to mislead the U.S. public and achieve discontinuation of the “peace process at any price.”