The exclusion of Russia from the SWIFT network, considered a last resort due to its possible impact on the European and global economy, could become a reality in the coming days, at least partially.
The European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States published a joint statement on Saturday to condemn the Russian invasion.
In it, they promised to take a series of measures that include removing “a selection of Russian banks from the S WIFT messaging system . “
Russia relies heavily on the SWIFT system for its oil and gas exports.
But this decision could also harm Western companies doing business with Russia.
The measure “will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and their ability to operate globally is impaired,” they said in the statement, without specifying when the new veto will come into force or which banks will be affected.
“As long as Russian forces continue their siege of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, we are determined to continue to impose costs on Russia that will further isolate it from the international financial system and our economies,” the allies said.
In addition to what is related to the SWIFT network, they also promised to “impose restrictive measures that prevent the Central Bank of Russia from using its international reserves to reduce the impact of our sanctions.”
“They will have to use telephone or fax”
The United States called the decision by Western allies to disconnect Russian banks from the SWIFT network “the Iran model.”
Iran was cut off from SWIFT in 2012 as part of sanctions over its nuclear programme, though much of its banks have since reconnected to the system.
Russian banks excluded from SWIFT ” will have to use the phone or a fax machine,” a White House representative said.
“In all likelihood, most banks around the world will simply cut off transactions with Russian banks.”
“Only Putin can decide how many more losses he is willing to take,” the senior US official said.
What is the SWIFT network?
The Society for Worldwide Interbank and Financial Communications (SWIFT) is the leading messaging system used by banks to make fast and secure cross-border payments .
It is used by 11,000 banking entities in more than 200 countries and allows international trade to flow smoothly.
Created in 1973, the SWIFT network transmits more than 40 million messages a day , informing users when their payments have been sent or when they are received.
It is believed that more than 1% of the millions of dollars that are exchanged thanks to it involve Russian transactions.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for Russia to be excluded from the system on Thursday, when EU leaders met to discuss sanctions.
- BBC News World