French bank confirms commitment to Russia

Société Générale confirmed on Thursday the French bank's commitment to the Russian market and said any Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine would have a limited impact.

French bank confirms commitment to Russia
Société Generale confirms commitment to Russia. Photo: Patrick Kovarick/AFP

The chief executive of Société Générale confirmed Thursday the French bank's commitment to the Russian market, where it owns a controlling stake in a top lender, and voiced confidence any Western sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine would be limited.

"My strategic vision is that in the long term the ties between Europe and Russia will become stronger," Frederic Oudea said on BFM Business.

Russia "is very important as a market and will remain a major element for development for Europe. We are making a bet on the long term and engagement in Russia is confirmed," he added.

Société Générale owns Rosbank, the nation's number two lender by number of branches, and has made Russia a key element of its international development.

He said the bank's exposure to the country should be kept in perspective, as it and the neighbouring area represents less than five percent of Société Générale's total liabilities.

The United States and Europe are making more noises about tougher sanctions on Russia if Moscow moves to annex Crimea.

Russian troops now de facto control the strategic Black Sea peninsula and will hold a hastily-arranged referendum this weekend on joining Russia.

However Oudea said "I think sanctions will be limited", estimating that Europe has as much to lose in case of reprisals by Moscow, citing the example of Germany's dependence on Russian natural gas.

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Russia announces no New Year’s greetings for France, US, Germany

US President Joe Biden, France's Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will not be receiving New Year's greetings from Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Russia announces no New Year's greetings for France, US, Germany

As the world gears up to ring in the New Year this weekend, Putin sent congratulatory messages to the leaders of Kremlin-friendly countries including Turkey, Syria, Venezuela and China.

But Putin will not wish a happy New Year to the leaders of the United States, France and Germany, countries that have piled unprecedented sanctions on Moscow over Putin’s assault on Ukraine.

“We currently have no contact with them,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“And the president will not congratulate them given the unfriendly actions that they are taking on a continuous basis,” he added.

Putin shocked the world by sending troops to pro-Western Ukraine on February 24.

While Kyiv’s Western allies refused to send troops to Ukraine, they have been supplying the ex-Soviet country with weapons in a show of support that has seen Moscow suffer humiliating setbacks on the battlefield.