Ukraine wants major US and European banks prosecuted for "committing war crimes" because they finance companies that trade oil with Russia, according to CNBC, citing President Volodomyr Zelensky's top economic aide, Oleg Ustenko.
"Everybody who is financing these war criminals, who are doing these terrible things in Ukraine, are also committing war crimes in our logic," Ustenko told the network on Tuesday, calling out banks such as JPMorgan, HSBC and Citi.
When asked if the banks should be prosecuted for war crimes, Ustenko replied "Exactly."
Ustenko said Zelenskyy believes these banks should be held accountable for prolonging the conflict and the war on Ukraine.
His comments came in response to a FT report last week, which said that Ukraine’s government wrote to the chiefs of U.S. and European banks — such as Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan and Noel Quinn from HSBC — urging them to cut ties with the groups that are trading Russian oil. -CNBC
According to letters seen by the FT, Ustenko asked the banks to cut off financing to any businesses that deal in Russian oil, and to divest from Gazprom and Rosneft, Russia's primary state-owned oil and gas companies.
The letters directly accuse Citigroup and Credit Agricole of "prolonging" the war by extending financing to companies that ship Russian oil, and warns that said banks won't be allowed to take part in Ukraine's reconstruction when the war is over.
Ustenko told CNBC that the Zelensky administration is gathering evidence to send to the International Criminal Court.
"We are collecting all these information" on companies that are financing Russia, he said. "Our Ministry of Justice and our security service of Ukraine are collecting. And then later, this is going to be passed to the ICC."
This isn’t the first time that Ukraine has gone after Western companies for having business dealings with Russia.
In March, the government was highly critical of big oil companies for still doing business with Russia, and warned that some of those firms could find themselves on the wrong side of history.
Ustenko said the war has taken a significant toll on Ukraine’s economy since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24. -CNBC
"Currently, we are expecting that the Ukrainian economy is going to show a decline on the level of around 35-40%, which is a huge decline," he said, saying the decrease is due to the fact that nearly 50% of businesses "are not operational now or not able to operate at full capacity."
"When the economy is declining, then the budget revenues are decreased. Again the reason for that is the Russian invasion"