VIENNA, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Austrian banks are most at risk from potential sanctions by Russia against Vienna in a tit-fot-tat escalation with the West over the political crisis in Ukraine, Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling told a newspaper.
But Austria sees the situation as “manageable”, he added in an interview with Der Standard printed on Thursday.
“What I hear from the Russian side is that asymmetric sanctions are planned, so one picks out countries in a targeted way: car imports affect one country, other imports the next. The biggest risk for Austria are the banks,” he said.
He did not name any lenders, but profits at Raiffeisen Bank International and UniCredit’s central and eastern European arm Bank Austria rely heavily on Russia.
Schelling reiterated that Austria expected to hit its target of having a structural budget deficit of 1 percent of gross domestic product this year but some fiscal adjustments may be needed in 2015 given slower-than-forecast economic growth.
“In addition, a worsening of the Ukraine-Russia crisis could have a severe impact,” he said.
European countries and the United States imposed sanctions on Moscow after Russia annexed Crimea in March, and have tightened them over Moscow’s support of Ukrainian separatists. Russia banned most Western food imports in August and has said more sanctions may follow. (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Michael Urquhart)