International firms are scaling back their Russian offices, as the former head of magic circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Russian dispute resolution practice predicted in the Gazette last month.

Magic circle firm Clifford Chance told the Gazette that it has laid off 10 staff - five lawyers and five members of business services - from its Moscow-based team following a review of the market. But a spokesperson said the firm, which has had a presence in Russia since 1991, still has a 110-plus headcount.

The news comes months after another magic circle firm, Allen & Overy, consolidated its corporate markets practice into its broader finance team, which resulted in a ‘small number of people’ leaving, a spokesperson said.

The managing partner of its Moscow office, Philipp Wahl, divides his time between London and Moscow.

Last month Maxim Kulkov (pictured), who left Freshfields to set up litigation boutique Kulkov, Kolotilov & Partners, told the Gazette that international firms faced numerous challenges as a result of sanctions imposed on Russia in response to the annexation of Crimea.

They would downsize - possibly even close - their offices, he predicted.

Washington-based Covington & Burling partner Kimberly Strosnider, who advises companies on the application of international trade controls, said asset-blocking sanctions imposed broad restrictions on US persons dealing with parties who have been placed on a ‘specially designated nationals’ list.

Sectoral sanctions, while not as extreme as asset-blocking sanctions, placed restrictions on certain types of activity, such as providing services in support of the exploration and production in the energy sector.