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Activities of Russian business with foreign partners in the era of sanctions. November 2023 Review

Let's consider how realistic it is now for Russian businesses to operate with their foreign partners and what countries are available to entrepreneurs from Russia.

Banks of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, and Kazakhstan are now acting as peculiar conductors of the interests of Russian business abroad, which make it possible to avoid or minimize the consequences of the changes that have occurred in traditional financial and logistics routes that existed before 02/24/2022.

By the fall of 2022, all of the above states felt sanctions pressure from Western countries. Account opening processes have begun to become more complex. Local bankers, fearing secondary sanctions and not wanting to risk their own correspondent accounts in large Western banks, began to restrict the opening of accounts and transactions for companies in which Russian citizens were present.


Banks in this country have seriously tightened the conditions for opening accounts for non-residents. Nevertheless, Kazakh banks remain attractive to Russians, since this country is a major logistics hub for goods from China, Europe and Southeast Asia. Accounts are opened mainly for local companies with the participation of Russian beneficiaries. A mandatory requirement for opening a corporate account is the delivery of part or all of the imported or exported goods to the territory of Kazakhstan. If you are ready to follow this rule, then most Kazakh banks, for example, Freedom Finance, Jusan, CenterCreditBank and others, will promptly open accounts for you.


Local banks are becoming one of the leaders in issuing cards for Russian citizens, as well as in opening corporate accounts for non-resident clients, mainly related to Russian business. In September 2023, Kyrgyz banks continued to open accounts for representative offices of non-resident companies, as well as for local companies whose beneficiaries or account managers are Russian citizens. However, due to increasing pressure from the United States, dollars in Kyrgyz banks have become virtually unavailable for payments between non-residents. Transactions between Kyrgyz and Russian banks are carried out only in rubles. For international payments from banks in Kyrgyzstan, clients can use currencies such as euro, Turkish lira, dirham, yuan. The introduction of the yuan into circulation by Kyrgyz banks is especially attractive for clients who work with Chinese counterparties, since many Chinese businessmen do not want to receive payments from Russia or pay directly to Russia.

A significant tightening of requirements for opening accounts in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan occurred at the end of spring 2023. Inspection trips by US Treasury officials who monitor compliance with sanctions imposed against Russia have led to complications in making international payments for Russian clients. Thus, Kazakh and Kyrgyz banks began to demand that contracts with Russian companies be concluded exclusively in rubles.


By the end of 2022, they practically stopped opening personal accounts in Armenia for clients with Russian passports. Corporate accounts for Russian businessmen in Armenian banks have become overgrown with such a volume of mandatory requirements that their opening has lost all meaning. For example, banks required the presence of an office and staff in Armenia, a mandatory volume of transactions with local businesses, introduced restrictions related to currency and directions of payments, and so on.

United Arab Emirates.

Possessing an excellent financial infrastructure, strong and reliable banks, the UAE authorities have demonstrated their readiness to accept and serve the interests of Russian citizens, register companies for them and open both personal and corporate accounts.

However, some Emirati banks (for example, Mashreq Bank, Abu-Dhabi Islamic Bank) have stopped opening accounts for Russian citizens and are cleaning up their client base. Most UAE banks continue to serve the growing flow of clients from Russia with a number of additional conditions and requirements. They continue to open corporate and personal accounts for clients from Russia and even accept payments from Russian “non-sanctioned” (non-sanctioned) banks in different currencies (Dirham, US dollar, Euro).


Accounts are still being opened in Turkish banks - both for companies that are non-resident in relation to Turkey itself, and for local companies whose founders are Russian citizens. Emlak Bank and Nurol Bank serve Russian clients most actively. The main challenge associated with opening a Turkish bank account is not opening the account itself, but rather ensuring that it operates efficiently and smoothly. Turkish banks open accounts and generally provide the opportunity to work, but, unfortunately, out of ten international payments, in practice, only two to four are successfully processed, since correspondent banks do not like making payments to Russia.


In Europe, for a typical Russian business client who does not have permanent residence or an EU residence permit, it is now almost impossible to open an account. Serbia remains more or less accessible to our fellow citizens. For example, local banks Alta Bank and Poštanska štedionica Bank are still ready to consider applications. Of course, these banks cannot provide a high level of banking service - a rather weak interface for Internet banking, rather slow payment processing. But at the same time, they work with Russian non-sanctioned banks and carry out both ruble and foreign currency payments in the interests of their non-resident clients in relation to Serbia. We recommend that our clients open accounts in at least two banks at once, if possible, for greater reliability. This is necessary so that it is possible, for example, not to mix settlements between counterparties in Russia and counterparties in other countries.


In the Far East, China is of greatest interest to Russians and Russian businesses. Our experience in opening accounts in banks in mainland China is not yet so extensive, but it already allows us to draw certain conclusions. Chinese bankers are ready to open accounts for companies from Hong Kong with Russian owners, but in most banks payments on the accounts of such companies will be limited to settlements in rubles or yuan between the two countries. The Chinese authorities are not interested in turning their banking system into some kind of “transshipment hub” for payments from the Russian Federation. They want to avoid the threat of secondary sanctions from the US and EU. Nevertheless, for clients who engage in export-import transactions with China, this is a good banking solution that is not yet subject to sanctions risks.


Local bankers are ready to interact with Russian “non-sanctioned” banks of the Russian Federation, accept the ruble from there, convert it into local currency - dong, and make payments in “hard” currencies around the world in the interests of their clients.

Thus, despite incredible sanctions pressure from a number of countries, Russian business continues to develop and use new channels of interaction. New and often unique options in the banking sector are constantly emerging, which previously seemed unthinkable in countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Vietnam, China, etc.

Our company closely monitors the current banking situation in the world and enables its clients to use the most secure opportunities for conducting international business in an era of constantly changing global political and economic conditions.

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