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Ukraine suspends listing of five Greek companies as 'war sponsors' but maintains Hungary's OTP Bank

Ukraine has included five Greek shipping companies in the list of ''international sponsors of war.''
Ukraine has included five Greek shipping companies in the list of ''international sponsors of war.'' Copyright Thanassis Stavrakis/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Thanassis Stavrakis/Copyright 2022 The AP. All rights reserved
By Jorge Liboreiro
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The Ukrainian authorities have decided to temporarily suspend the listing of five Greek shipping companies as ''international sponsors of war."


Kyiv, however, has made no changes to the listing of OTP Bank, the largest commercial bank in Hungary.

OTP Bank, which serves over 2.4 million clients in Russia, has previously described the designation as ''unjustified.''

''We see no reason to exclude it,'' said a spokesperson of the National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), the body that manages the list.

The suspension regarding the Greek firms was taken on Tuesday night, the spokesperson explained, and is meant to last while ''bilateral consultations'' with the European Commission take place.

The following day, the overture seemed to pay off: ambassadors secured a unanimous agreement on a new round of EU sanctions, which the Greek and Hungarian governments had blocked for weeks.

Athens and Budapest had repeatedly complained about the inclusion of their domestic companies in the Ukrainian list and asked for their removal as a pre-condition to move forward with the proposed penalties. The blockage also affected the release of a new tranche of €500 million in military assistance.

The demand put Brussels in an awkward position as it could be seen as meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs. Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, got in touch with his counterparts in Kyiv to tackle the issue.

"We have to do everything we can in order to make the next package of military support for Ukraine being approved. If one member state has a difficulty, let's discuss about it," Borrell said last month.

The list of "international sponsors of war'' targets private companies that, according to the NACP's assessment, still do business in Russia, pay taxes to the federal government and therefore contribute to fueling the war machine.

The list is devoid of legal power, lacks formal criteria and bases many of its assumptions on media reports, rather than formal investigations

But its name-shaming factor has proven effective, causing reputational damage for the targeted companies, which forcefully contest the claims and the explosive label of ''war sponsor,'' and a diplomatic headache for the countries that host them.

As of today, the list covers 28 companies, 16 of which are EU-based.

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