Feb 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Sanctioned Russian banks lose U.S. lobbyists

The homepage of Russian bank Sberbank is seen in front of the Russian flag.
Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Washington lobbying firms are dropping high-profile Russian clients targeted by U.S. sanctions this week, as restrictions limit business with those companies.

The big picture: So far, seven U.S. lobbying and PR firms have parted ways with 10 different clients in the wake of punitive U.S. measures designed to punish Russia's invasion of Ukraine, according to filings, statements and interviews with the firms.

  • Most of those engagements were aimed at staving off U.S. sanctions. But Russia's invasion of Ukraine made that an impossible task.

Driving the news: Just a month after it signed the Russian bank Sovcombank, Mercury Public Affairs told Axios on Friday that it has terminated the agreement "in compliance with U.S. sanctions."

  • Geopols, a firm that represented sanctioned Russian financial institution VEB, has also cut ties, a person familiar with the situation told Axios.
  • Records show Geopols' VEB account had been largely dormant, with no work done or fees exchanged since 2020. But the agreement was officially terminated on Tuesday, the person said.

U.S. lobbyists for two other sanctioned Russian banks ended their engagements this week.

  • Venable terminated its lobbying deal with Sberbank on Friday, a spokesperson for the firm said.
  • Law firm Sidley Austin did the same for Russian bank VTB, which "is no longer a client ... in compliance with U.S. sanctions," a spokesperson said.
  • The Hill first reported on Venable's termination. CNBC first reported Sidley Austin's.

Those four terminations came after firms representing the company behind the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline cut ties earlier this week.

  • The company's two lobbying firms, BGR and Roberti Global, both ended their relationships after President Biden cleared sanctions on the parent company, Nord Stream 2 AG.
  • Another firm, McLarty Inbound, ended its agreements with another five companies involved with the pipeline project.

Go deeper: The latest on the Russia-Ukraine crisis

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