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China-backed bank halts lending to Russia, Belarus

BEIJING: The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank said it will suspend business related to Russia and Belarus, which have been hit with massive international sanctions over the Ukraine war.

In a statement issued Thursday (Mar 4), the AIIB said that "in the best interests of the bank, management has decided that all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review".

The bank added that it was "actively monitoring the situation" in Ukraine and that management would do the "utmost to safeguard the financial integrity of AIIB".

The multilateral financial institution, a brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was launched in 2016 to counter the West's dominance of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Russia is among the AIIB's founding members and holds around a 6 percent vote in its operations. It also has a seat on the bank's board of directors.

It is the third-biggest stakeholder behind China - which holds almost 27 percent of voting power - and India.

Disclosures on the AIIB website show it has so far approved two Russian projects with the financing of US$800 million.

Only a small portion of its loan portfolio is in Russia.

Two projects for Belarus have also been proposed, in the fields of public health and transport.


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