Foreign Minister Kuleba confirms Russia sanctions don’t include SWIFT
The agreed-upon set of sanctions to be imposed on Russia, should it launch a new invasion of Ukraine, does not include disconnecting Moscow from the SWIFT global banking messaging system, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Ukrainian TV station 1+1 on Feb. 12.
“As of now, SWIFT isn’t a part of the sanctions package, but it has nothing to do with Russian pressure (on Western countries),” said Kuleba.
“It’s a result of internal EU dynamics, with some countries remaining unwilling to compromise their economic interests by disconnecting (Russia) from SWIFT.”
Severing Moscow from the global interbank system is the “nuclear” option of potential sanctions, according to the minister. He added that even without it, Western sanctions “remain a very powerful” tool for “economic influence” on Russia.
SWIFT is used by banks around the world to securely communicate with each other, including to clear international transactions. Cutting a nation off from SWIFT, or sanctioning banks that conduct SWIFT transactions with offending countries, would likely impose severe costs for that country’s foreign trade flows.
Earlier, Reuters reported that EU and the United States ruled out excluding Russia from SWIFT as a part of Western retaliation for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.
On Jan. 17, German business media outlet Handelsblatt, citing government sources in Berlin, reported that the EU and the United States decided against disconnecting Moscow from SWIFT in case Russia decides to further their invasion of Ukraine. Sanctioning major Russian banks is being considered instead.
However, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied these reports and said that Washington is considering all options to exert pressure on the Kremlin if it decides to go through with its invasion plans, including severing Russia from SWIFT.
The European Parliament called for Moscow to be excluded from SWIFT and for the assets of Russian oligarchs to be frozen, in a resolution passed in April 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden said that the United State and its partners have sanctions prepare in response to all kinds of Russian aggression against Ukraine, such as incursions from the areas controlled by Russian proxies, deployments of Russian troops in unmarked uniforms and cyber-attacks.
During his talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 12, Biden once again “clearly stated” that the United States and its allies will impose harsh sanctions on Russia in case it invades Ukraine once again.
A new Russia sanctions bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 12, targeting top Russian officials, including Putin himself, in addiction to more broad measures aimed at Russian banks and commerce.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned Moscow that London is considering freezing the assets of Russian oligarchs.
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