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Russia's top bank must be hit with sanctions: Ukrainian minister

Kyiv seeks not NATO planes and pilots, but 'surface-to-air defense systems'

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Nikkei Asia that sanctions against Russia should include blocking its largest bank, Sberbank, and urged Japan to close its ports to Russian ships.   © Reuters

KYIV, Ukraine -- The U.S.-led sanctions against Russia should be stepped up further, including blocking Sberbank -- the largest Russian bank -- from the SWIFT payment network, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Thursday in an interview with Nikkei Asia.

The European Union announced on Wednesday that seven other major banks in Russia, including VTB Bank, will be excluded from SWIFT as additional economic sanctions. "The largest Russian bank was not disconnected from SWIFT. It's a mistake," Kuleba said, and the wide-ranging measures can be stepped up "more in a coordinated way to close all loopholes and gaps in the sanctions ... so that Russia cannot bypass sanctions."

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