Japan has provided about ¥4 billion ($39 million) in loans to Russia’s Sberbank that will be used to finance a construction project at a port in the Russian Far East, sources said.
The loans were offered through the government-backed Japan Bank for International Cooperation as part of efforts to advance bilateral talks on the dispute over four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Japan in December, the sources said Saturday.
It is rare for the JBIC to provide loans without private-sector banking partners.
Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, will extend loans to a company running the port of Vostochny to fund the building of coal-handling facilities.
The port plans to expand its annual coal shipping capacity to 39 million tons from the current 21 million tons by the end of 2025.
The financial support came after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe proposed an eight-point package during bilateral economic discussions with Putin in May.
The United States and European countries effectively banned providing loans to some Russian companies and financial institutions, including Sberbank, when they imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Japanese banks are banned from buying Russian debt, but yen-denominated loans are not prohibited under the sanctions.