EU banks kept building Russian exposures as sanctions loomed

Latest EBA data shows the bloc’s lenders cut holdings of government debt securities, but increased commitments to private sector

European Union banks grew exposures to Russia by 9% to €115.9 billion ($128 billion) in the fourth quarter of last year, seemingly oblivious to the risk that sanctions made in response to any aggression against Ukraine may end up impairing much of their Russian assets.

The bloc’s lenders had an aggregate €76.2 billion of on-balance-sheet exposure to Russia as of end-2021, up 2% over the period, European Banking Authority data shows. Sitting off-balance-sheet was another €39.7 billion in

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