A logo of UniCredit is seen in downtown Milan, August 18, 2014. Picture taken on August 18, 2014.
A logo of UniCredit is seen in downtown Milan, August 18, 2014. Picture taken on August 18, 2014. Reuters / Stefano Rellandini

Credit Suisse said it had gross exposure to Russia of 1.6 billion Swiss francs ($1.73 billion) at end 2021, the latest European bank to reveal the size of potential losses as Western sanctions shut Russia out of the global financial system.

Italy's UniCredit and France's BNP Paribas have also disclosed billions of euros worth of Russia risk. In an extreme scenario banks could lose it all if Moscow seizes assets and sanctions render Russia-related securities worthless.

Deutsche Bank said its credit risk exposure to Russia and Ukraine was 2.9 billion euros and that it had reduced its Russia exposure further over the past two weeks.

Western companies have pulled out of Russia en masse as the United States, European Union and Britain imposed sanctions aimed at curbing Moscow's access to funding in response to its Ukraine invasion.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation."

Banks, insurers and asset managers, which rarely make political statements, have scrambled to distance themselves from Russia and assess their exposures, as the conflict enters its third week.

While the potential losses among major European lenders are not big enough to threaten their stability, analysts and investors fear it could derail their turnaround plans and halt payouts to shareholders.

The conflict has also potentially upended planned interest rate increases by the European Central Bank, with its policymakers expected to go into a meeting on Thursday divided as to how to proceed and wary of making mistakes.

Credit Suisse for the first time detailed its year-end net credit exposure to Russia, which included lending to wealthy clients as well as trade finance and investment banking exposure.

BNP Paribas meanwhile has cut off its Russia-based workforce from its internal computer systems as it seeks to bolster its defences against any potential cyber attack, in another sign of how the conflict is hitting Western financial institutions.

The French bank, thought to be the first major lender to have shut staff in Moscow out of its IT networks, has also placed employees in other locations on high alert for cyber threats emanating from Russia.

($1 = 0.9269 Swiss francs)