By Carolyn Cohn and Saeed Azhar

LONDON (Reuters) – British bank HSBC is beginning to wind down relations with a host of Russian banks including the second-largest, VTB, according to a memo seen by Reuters, as financial institutions start to implement restrictions on Russia.

The United States, Britain, Europe and Canada announced new sanctions on Russia on Saturday – including blocking certain lenders’ access to the SWIFT international payment system – following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The advisory notice from HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, tells staff how they should apply the new global sanctions on Russia.

Headed “action required” and dated Feb 27, it highlights the fact that the UK Office of Financial Sanctions had authorised “the wind down of certain transactions involving VTB Bank and certain UK subsidiaries”.

HSBC declined to comment.

(Additional reporting by Lawrence White, editing by John O’Donnell)