Russian banks to be excluded from SWIFT, allies say

Brussels, Belgium – Selected Russian banking institutions are to be excluded from SWIFT, an international transfer system used for making bank payments, the US and its Western allies have pledged.

President Biden along with other Western leaders decided to bar Russia from SWIFT.
President Biden along with other Western leaders decided to bar Russia from SWIFT.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

The leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US said in a joint statement they "condemn [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's war of choice and attacks on the sovereign nation and people" of Ukraine.

"We stand with the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people in their heroic efforts to resist Russia’s invasion."

Russia’s war represents "an assault on fundamental international rules and norms" that have prevailed since World War II, the statement said.

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"We will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin."

The leaders said they would ensure selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system.

The measure would "ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

SWIFT, which is based in Belgium and connects more than 11,000 banks, financial institutions, and corporations around the world, said it was aware of the proposed measures.

"We are engaging with European authorities to understand the details of the entities that will be subject to the new measures and we are preparing to comply upon legal instruction," it said in a statement.

Allies announce further measures

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said allies would take additional steps to target Russian elites.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said allies would take additional steps to target Russian elites.  © IMAGO / Xinhua

Restrictive measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of the sanctions would also be imposed.

"We will stop Putin from using his war chest. We will paralyze the assets of Russia's Central Bank. This will freeze its transactions," von der Leyen said.

Measures to limit the sale of citizenship that "let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems" would also be imposed, leaders said.

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A trans-Atlantic task force that will identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies would also be launched. The leaders warned sanctions on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, and their families, could also be imposed.

"We will also engage other governments and work to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world," the statement said.

"We stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark hour. Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further measures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine."

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo & IMAGO / Xinhua

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