(Fwrd Axis) — The United States and its European allies announced on Saturday an agreement to block some Russian banks from the SWIFT banking systems, Belgian financial messaging system that links more than 11,000 financial institutions
“We commit to ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system. This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, said in a joint statement.
The news comes just 48 hours after President Joe Biden announced new sanctions against Russia, including targeting Russian banks and high profile elites with close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with freezing every asset Russia has in the U.S.
#BREAKING: France, Germany, Italy, UK, Canada, U.S. all announce they will block and disconnect selected Russian banks from the #SWIFT messaging system: “it will harm their ability to operate globally.” #russianinvasion #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/tpntGJe7FT
— Stephen Michael (@stephenreports) February 26, 2022
Saturday’s news is a massive development after Biden said just days ago Germany and Italy had been reluctant to include SWIFT as part of sanctions against Russia. Germany’s government said on Saturday that it would be supportive of restricting or limiting Russia’s access to SWIFT in a targeted way.
“That’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take,” Biden told reporters Thursday.
“As Russian forces unleash their assault on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, we are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies,” the leaders said in the joint statement.
The statement detailed actions would be taken “against the people and entities who facilitate the war in Ukraine and the harmful activities of the Russian government.”
“Specifically, we commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship—so-called golden passports—that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems,” the statement said.
CNN reported Saturday that Biden has been considering expelling Russia from SWIFT, but had yet to make a final decision. The move would be presented as a financial “nuclear option,” with the President and his aides noting how complicated it would be and the U.S. could not move unilaterally.
The White House has been pressured by Ukraine, and lawmakers in Congress, for Russia to be removed from SWIFT entirely after Putin ordered the invasion on Thursday.
On Friday, the White House followed in the steps of the European Union and the United Kingdom in directly sanctioning Putin following the Russian military invading Ukraine and threatening to take over the capital city of Kyiv.