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Austrian lender Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) has said it is considering all strategic options for its Russian arm, including exiting the country, as the Ukraine crisis deepens.

Notably, RBI is one of those few international banks that have significant exposure to Russia, which is facing unprecedented sanctions over its invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier, media reports emerged that the bank could exit Russia but at the time RBI said it has no plans to leave the country.

RBI CEO Johann Strobl said: “This unprecedented situation leads RBI to consider its position in Russia. We are therefore assessing all strategic options for the future of Raiffeisenbank Russia, up to and including a carefully managed exit from Raiffeisenbank in Russia.”

The Austrian lender’s business in Russia accounted for nearly a third of its net profit of $1.7bn in 2021.

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The sanctions from the west have triggered a mass exodus of foreign firms operating on Russian soil and the impact can be felt on global markets.

RBI noted that its subsidiary banks are self-funded, well-capitalised and their cross-border exposure to Russia non-material.

It has operations in 13 markets across Central and Eastern Europe.

“We have a duty of care to our employees and our customers. Across the RBI Group, we are doing everything we can to support them and the humanitarian effort,” RBI’s statement read.

Other banks such as Italy’s UniCredit and France’s Societe Generale and US banking group Citi could lose billions from Russian exposure.