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Russia’s Top Banks Fall From Grace in Blow to Putin’s War Plans

  • Sberbank, VTB face isolation, higher costs and loan risks
  • State-owned lenders have become ‘uninvestable,’ analyst says
A VTB Bank branch in Moscow on Feb. 28.

A VTB Bank branch in Moscow on Feb. 28.

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

Russia’s two most powerful banks went from their best year ever in 2021 to fighting for their future, with the outlook for Sberbank PJSC only slightly less grim than the Kremlin-friendly VTB Group.

U.S. sanctions imposed on the state-owned lenders over President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine caused Sberbank’s European unit to unravel and called into question its ability to pull off a daring bid to become Russia’s version of Amazon.com Inc.