China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) announced on Thursday, March 3 that it had suspended all Russia-related activities. This move came after Western countries cut off Russia’s largest banks from the global interbank messaging system SWIFT following its evasion of Ukraine.

Reuters reported that the Beijing-headquartered AIIB said that, for the best interests of the bank in an economic and financial situation recently, it has put on hold and under review all activities relating to Russia and Belarus.

According to VOA, AIIB was established in June 2015 in Beijing with 57 founding members, including the members of BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which hold nearly 50 percent of the voting shares. China is the largest shareholder in the development bank, holding 26 percent of its voting power.

AIIB decided to freeze Russian lending after China said several days ago that it opposed sanctions against Russia by Western countries and called them illegal.

On Wednesday, Guo Shuqing, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission chairman, explained that Beijing opposed financial penalties because they lack a legal basis and will suffer negative consequences.

Instead, Quo said that China will normally maintain trade and financial ties with Moscow and Kyiv.

On Wednesday, his remarks at a news conference echoed Commerce Minister Wang Wentao’s remarks when Wang said that China hopes to promote regular trade with Russia and Ukraine.

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