Sanctions against Russian banks and cryptocurrency transactions have been imposed by Singapore

Singapore will implement unilateral sanctions against Russia, marking the first time in decades that the city-state has sanctioned a foreign country without the support of the United Nations Security Council, according to a former diplomat.

According to a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday, sanctions include export controls on items that could be used as weapons, targeted financial measures against designated Russian banks, and restrictions on cryptocurrency transactions that could be used to circumvent financial sanctions.

“For a small state like Singapore, this is not a theoretical principle, but a dangerous precedent. This is why Singapore has strongly condemned Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine” the ministry said in the statement.

The measures also ban Singapore’s financial institutions from providing services that would aid Russia’s government in raising new funds.

According to an email from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the island nation’s goods trade with Russia was roughly S$5 billion (US$3.7 billion) in 2021, with imports from Moscow and Kyiv accounting for 0.8% of total imports to the city state.

Singapore sovereign wealth fund, GIC, on Saturday said it will cease investments of the government’s funds into newly-issued Russian sovereign and central bank debt.

“GIC continues to assess the Russian-Ukrainian situation and will ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations,” a GIC spokesperson said in an email.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan told parliament on February 28 that Russia’s show of force threatens a world order that “would be profoundly inimical to the security and survival of small states.” Singapore rarely imposes sanctions on other countries without binding UN Security Council approval.

Singapore’s largest banks have already imposed restrictions on trade finance for Russian raw commodities, including a ban on providing US dollars for oil and liquefied natural gas trades. In the meanwhile, due to operational concerns, Singapore Airlines has halted all return flights to Moscow.

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