Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday urged countries to ban Russia from the SWIFT global interbank payments system — one of the toughest non-military sanctions the West could impose — to punish Moscow for sending troops into Ukraine.
European Union leaders will impose new sanctions on Russia, freezing its assets, halting its banks' access to European financial markets and targeting "Kremlin interests" over its invasion of Ukraine, senior officials said Thursday, but cutting Russia off from SWIFT is unlikely to happen at this stage.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of the Baltic states, once ruled from Moscow but now members of NATO and the European Union, also called for an end to Russia's access to the SWIFT payment system and to provide Ukraine with weapons and ammunition.
The international community should "impose the strongest possible sanctions on Russia, including disengaging Russia from SWIFT," the three foreign ministers said in a joint statement.
If SWIFT were to exclude Russian banks, it would restrict the country’s access to financial markets across the world.
Russian companies and individuals would find it harder to pay for imports and receive cash for exports, borrow or invest overseas.
Russian banks could use other channels for payments such as phones, messaging apps or email. The would allow Russian banks to make payments via banks in countries which have not imposed sanctions but since alternatives are likely to be less efficient and secure, transaction volumes could fall and costs rise.
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