Russian banks lose $370m in a month

- Banking sector suffers loss of 24 billion rubles, central bank reports.

MOSCOW (AA) - Russia's banks made losses of 24 billion rubles ($370 million) in January, the country's central bank has reported.

The figure released on Friday was a major change from the same month last year, when the banking sector showed a profit of 93 billion rubles.

The central bank stated in its report: "In January 2015, the banking sector as a whole was unprofitable; credit institutions suffered a loss of 24 billion rubles."

"Provisions for banks' potential losses have increased since the beginning of 2015 by seven percent, or 284 billion rubles."

"For comparison, the average monthly increase of reserves in 2014 amounted to 100 billion rubles," the report added.


- Weakening ruble


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged in December that Western sanctions had helped weaken Russia's economy and currency.

He said at the time: "Our economy, probably, has lost tens of billions of dollars."

He said the weakening of the ruble had "a certain impact on the budget, how it balances ... but, nevertheless ... a substantial weakening of the ruble is not advantageous for the state and the economy."

Sanctions were first levied against Russia in March by the U.S., EU, and several other nations in response to Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula.

Additional sanctions were later levied in response to alleged Russian involvement in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.

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