Russian banks to be cut off from SWIFT, central bank assets to be frozen – EC chief von der Leyen

27 February 2022, 10:12 AM

The European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States announced today that a number of Russian banks will be disconnected from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

The head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said that "the Russian army is committing barbaric acts during its invasion of Ukraine," killing innocent people, and would invite EU leaders to introduce new measures against Russia to "cripple (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's ability to finance his war machine."

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“First, we commit to ensuring that a certain number of Russian banks are removed from SWIFT,” she said.

“Cutting banks off will stop them from conducting most of their financial transactions worldwide and effectively block Russian exports and imports. Second, we will stop Putin from using his war chest. We will paralyze the assets of Russia's central bank. This will freeze its transactions. And it will make it impossible for the Central Bank to liquidate its assets.”

Western countries will also work on banning Russian oligarchs from using their assets on European markets.

Von der Leyen said Putin was "destroying the future of his own country."

02:12 am UPDATE: A statement on the White House website notes that banks that are disconnected from SWIFT will lose access to the international financial system. Also, the measures "will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions."

In addition, the West is committed to taking steps to limit the sale of citizenship — so-called “golden passports” — that allow wealthy Russians with ties to the Russian government to become citizens of Western countries and gain access to their financial systems, the statement reads.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba today announced the start of technical preparations for a decision by Western countries to disconnect Russia from SWIFT after all EU countries supported such a measure.

It was also earlier reported that the United States was considering imposing sanctions against the Russian central bank.

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