The Bahamas joins allies in penalizing Russia


The Bahamas has banned its financial institutions from doing business with Russia, an action that puts the Caribbean island nation at the forefront of individual sanctions against Russia in the region.

In the Western Hemisphere, only the Bahamas and Canada have imposed unilateral sanctions against specific individuals and entities.

The move by the government of Prime Minister Philip Davis, pictured, comes in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and halts all Bahamian transactions with 121 Russian entities and individuals put under sanction by Western nations.

“Regulated entities, that are licensed or authorized to operate from or within the Bahamas, (are directed) not to engage in transactions with sanctioned persons, entities or business linked to Russia and Belarus,” the Bahamas’ central bank and four other regulatory agencies said in a statement, according to a March 14, 2021, story in The Nassau Guardian newspaper.

It was not immediately known how much Russia-linked money is held in Bahamian financial institutions, Reuters reported March 13.

Even though the Bahamas condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine, it, like many small Caribbean nations, was initially slow to impose sanctions, according to the Guardian.

Oil and fuel tankers controlled by Russia’s state-owned Sovcomflot shipping company were rerouted to the Bahamas after they were unable to deliver cargoes because of the Western sanctions, according to Reuters. A tanker, the SCF Neva, recently docked in the Bahamas for two days, sparking criticism, according to a March 10 Guardian report.

“As responsible members of the international community, the Bahamas must act in concert with its strategic allies and multilateral partners toward rejecting Russia’s illegal and inhumane invasion of the sovereign state of Ukraine,” Bahamian opposition leader Michael Pintard said, according to the Guardian.

Port Controller Berne Wright told the newspaper that the Neva, which diverted from Canada on March 3, docked briefly in Freeport before sailing for Gibraltar.

The Bahamian sanctions come after the Cabinet announced it was weighing calls by the public, as well as the U.S. and other allies, to implement broad measures against Russia, including the closing of airspace to Russian aircraft, the Guardian reported. Daniel Durazo, public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Nassau, told the newspaper that the United States had officially asked the Bahamas — a key regional security partner — to join allies in imposing sanctions.

The Bahamas cosponsored, and with 140 other United Nations member states, voted for, the U.N. General Assembly resolution demanding that Russia withdraw its military forces from Ukraine.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said before the sanctions were imposed that countries must choose sides in the Ukraine crisis and that the Bahamas’ position would be largely influenced by its relationship with the U.S. and the European Union, according to the Guardian.