The China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has announced that “all activities relating to Russia and Belarus are on hold and under review” due to Russia’s war on Ukraine . “As the war in Ukraine unfolds, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) extends its thoughts and sympathy to everyone affected. Our hearts go out to all who are suffering,” read a statement published on the website of the Beijing-based lender. Russia is a founding member of the development bank, holding a 6.7 per cent share in its capitalisation. Neither Ukraine nor Belarus are members of the bank, which was founded in 2016 and seen by some as a potential rival to the US-backed World Bank. “AIIB stands ready to extend financing flexibly and quickly and support members who have been adversely impacted by the war, directly or indirectly,” read the statement. Referring to the “war in Ukraine”, the AIIB went further than many other Chinese government-linked institutions, which have leaned towards using the Kremlin’s description of a “military operation”. “Economic spillover from commodity price shocks, financial market volatility and other factors may adversely impact our members’ economic situation. “We will work closely with our partner multilateral organisations to provide any needed support expeditiously.” China ‘concerned’ about Ukraine’s nuclear safety as Russians advance The AIIB’s annual meeting was due to be held in Russia this year, according to a statement on its website, although there was no date on the bank’s public calendar. Last year’s annual meeting took place in Dubai in October. In a statement announcing Moscow as the venue, released last year, the bank’s vice-president and corporate secretary Ludger Schuknecht said: “With Russia as one of AIIB’s largest shareholders, it is time for us to hold our Annual Meeting in such an important member. “Through this event, we expect to establish stronger connections with Russia’s business and policy community to help AIIB better serve its members.” Russia’s minister for economic development Maxim Reshetnikov said that Moscow was “actively working with the bank to expand our project pipeline in transport, financial and energy sectors”. With Russia facing isolation from the multilateral system, there has been intense scrutiny of China’s reaction. Reuters reported on Thursday that a Chinese state bank saw a “surge in inquiries from Russian firms wanting to open new accounts”. Some Russian banks have been kicked off Swift, a messaging tool that helps power the global transaction banking system, in response to the invasion of Ukraine. ‘We’re bleeding but we won’t give up’, Ukraine ambassador to Malaysia says Group of 7 members, meanwhile, have moved to sanction Russia’s central bank, cutting it off from around half of its foreign reserves, which are held in G7 financial institutions. In response, Moscow has hiked interest rates, temporarily closed the stock market and imposed strict capital controls. In a letter lodged at the World Trade Organization on Thursday, meanwhile, Ukraine said it was withdrawing all trading benefits for Russia, citing national security exemptions within the WTO’s constitution. In response to a request from the South China Morning Post , the European Union said it was considering “the possibility of removing [most favoured nation] treatment to Russia on the basis of the WTO national security exception”.