Russia's top lender Sberbank said on Wednesday it will launch operations in Crimea, the peninsula Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

In a statement state-owned Sberbank said it had already installed its first bank ATMs in Crimea and would open branches during the first half of 2023.

Russia's largest companies had previously refused to operate in Crimea for fear of falling under Western sanctions. The West sanctioned Sberbank last year in response to Russia sending tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine. (Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely)