The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has sought to distance itself from the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, attempting to clear its name and protect the Covid-19 vaccine Sputnik V from any political backlash.

RDIF is the sovereign wealth fund of the Russian Federation, but it “has never involved in any political activities, does not interact in any way with Ukraine and follows the world’s best investment practices, which has been acknowledged by all its international partners as well by national regulators,” it said in a communique.

RDIF and its Chief Executive have been named in the United States’ sanctions list.

Further, it pointed out, “RDIF always fully complies with laws of the countries where it conducts its investments. Imposition of sanctions against RDIF, which from the moment it was established has stood for building international relations and supporting constructive ties, demonstrates that the US has picked the course to destroy constructive dialogue between countries,” it added.

RDIF has an alliance with India’s Dr Reddy’s Laboratories to market Sputnik V - developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute - in India. It has tie-ups with others, including Serum Institute of India, Morepen, Panacea Biotec, Hetero, Gland Pharma and Strides, making India a major production base for Sputnik V, for the rest of the world.

While the Russian vaccine has been seeing a slow uptake in India, for reasons including raw material supply issues, there have been concerns in industry circles that the vaccine export too would run into head-winds, as more countries applied sanctions on Russia, following the Ukraine attack. While initial payments may have already been tied-up, subsequent transactions could face trouble, a pharma industry veteran told Business Line, given the sanctions. And this, despite medicines and vaccines usually being kept outside the ambit of sanctions, he added.

Also, from a brand point of view, the Ukraine attack could take some sheen off Sputnik Light, being projected as a universal booster, he said. The development also comes as the World Health Organization is reported to be evaluating the Russian vaccine for pre-qualification.

“In the past two years, the Fund has been focusing on ensuring global epidemiological safety through its pivotal involvement in struggle against the new coronavirus infection in over 70 countries,” RDIF said.

Judicial recourse

“The restrictions imposed by the U.S. authorities complicating RDIF efforts on the international promotion of the Russian vaccine products, have been lobbied by a number of large Western pharmaceutical companies. As a result of such unfair competition, billions of people around the world may be deprived of access to effective and safe Russian-made vaccines,” it alleged.

RDIF believes that the announced measures to restrict its operations are politically motivated and go against the principles of humanitarian cooperation, it added.

.“Defamatory and denigrating statements made by the Biden Administration about RDIF have absolutely no basis and represent blatant violation of its rights. RDIF will use all available means to protect its rights, reputation and lawful interests, including seeking judicial recourse in relevant jurisdictions,” it added.

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