Russia’s largest lender, Sber, opened its second branch in Crimea on Monday in the port city of Simferopol, the bank has announced. This comes a week after it opened its first location on the peninsula in Yalta.
The new branch will serve both individuals and legal entities, and has a 24-hour ATM zone. Another Sevastopol branch servicing legal entities exclusively will open in July.
“We felt the demand for Sber services on the peninsula. During the first days of the work of the office in Yalta, despite the holidays, there were more than 1,500 transactions,” Anatoly Pesennikov, the head of Sber Southwest, told RBK news outlet, adding that new branches will soon open in Kerch, Evpatoria, and other Crimean cities.
Sber did not have a presence in Crimea for the past nine years after it split with Ukraine and joined Russia following a referendum. The lender could not operate in Crimea due to sanctions imposed by the US and EU on the region after reunification.
Prior to the referendum, Sberbank’s Ukrainian subsidiary operated on the peninsula. However, after the bank itself was sanctioned by the West last year over Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Georgy Muradov urged the bank to restart operations in the region.
In the past nine years, Crimea has had a limited number of banks, as many feared economic repercussions due to the sanctions. Last March, President Vladimir Putin called on Russian businesses and banks to start working in Crimea since they no longer had anything to lose as a result of sanctions.
This article was originally published by RT.