U.S., UK, Europe, Canada to block Russian access to SWIFT

EC President von der Leyen speaks after Russia’s attack on Ukraine in Brussels
FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a statement on Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Brussels, Belgium February 24, 2022 ahead of an EU special summit called today to “discuss the crisis and further restrictive measures” that “will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its actions”. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS

The United States, Britain, Europe and Canada on Saturday moved to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payment system as part of another round of sanctions against Moscow as it continues its assault against Ukraine.

The measures, which will also include restriction on the Russian central bank’s international reserves, will be implemented in the coming days, the nations said in a joint statement.

“We commit to ensuring that a certain number of Russian banks are removed from SWIFT,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the European Union’s executive, said in a statement to the media.

“This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally.”

She said that cutting Russian banks off the system will stop them from conducting most of their financial transactions worldwide and effectively block Russian exports and imports.

She said allies would stop Russia from “using its war chest,” paralyzing the assets of its central bank, freezing its transactions and making it impossible for the central bank to liquidate its assets.

“Finally, we will work to prohibit Russian oligarchs from using their financial assets on our markets,” she said.

EU foreign ministers will discuss the sanctions package at a virtual meeting on Sunday evening, the fourth time they come together in a week.