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Exxon Mobil Corp XOM-N has notified Russian officials it will sue the federal government unless Moscow allows the company to exit a major oil and gas project, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Russia has banned investors from so-called unfriendly countries from selling shares in key energy projects and banks in the nation until the end of the year, stepping up pressure in the sanctions standoff with the West.

The ban covers almost all big financial and energy projects where foreign investors still have stakes, including the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project, in which U.S. oil major Exxon holds a 30 per cent stake.

Exxon’s spokesperson Casey Norton confirmed the company had sent the Russian government a notice of difference.

“Exiting is a complex process, and as the operator, we must protect the safety of employees, the environment, and the operation,” Norton said.

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