RT Banking Freeze: What Sanctions Is the UK Enacting Against Russia?

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By Anna Rhodes | 11:10 am, October 17, 2016

RT’s (formerly Russia Today) Editor in Chief today tweeted that the company’s UK bank account, held with NatWest, is being axed without explanation.

This comes after the Government threatened to impose further sanctions on Russia due to their conduct in Syria and their increased military dominance in the region.

This is nothing out of the ordinary for Russia – existing sanctions have been in place since the 2014 illegal annexation of the Crimea, both as part of EU joint action and from the UK alone. Here’s what’s what:


In 2014, the UK put in place sanctions relating to the restriction of exporting high tech goods and services in the energy sector. This means that a licence will need to be granted to sell technologies to Russia – and the licence will be denied if it involves the exploration of oil below 150m, and “projects that have the potential to produce oil from resources located in shale formations by way of hydraulic fracturing”.

Financial Assistance

Russia is on an embargoed list under the UK’s national control on trade, for the financial assistance relating “to the supply of items on the EU Common Military List”.

This includes potential weapons like including explosives, expression vectors, nuclear reactors and robots.


The EU imposed sanctions on “EU nationals and companies buying or selling new bonds, equity or similar financial instruments with a maturity exceeding 30 days, issued by five major state-owned Russian banks, three major Russian energy companies and three major Russian defence companies”.

Technical Assistance

The UK has prohibited the transmission of “any technical support related to repairs, development, manufacture, assembly, testing, maintenance, or any other technical service, and may take forms such as instruction, advice, training, transmission of working knowledge or skills or consulting services; including verbal forms of assistance”.

Visa Bans

The EU imposed visa bans on 149 person following the Crimea annexation, and froze many of their assets. This included the Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional Law of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation, Andrei Klishas, for openly supporting the deployment of troops into the Crimea, and many others on the Federation Council for their active support of military action.

RT Banking Action

In a letter published on their website, RT detailed that “The National Westminster Bank has informed RT UK that it will no longer have the broadcaster among its clients. The bank provided no explanation for the decision.”

NatWest is a part of the Royal Bank of Scotland group, whose stakes are owned in the majority by the UK government.

The holding means the state has a large degree of influence over the bank – but UK officials denied on Monday that they had any influence over the decision.