US, allies remove Russian banks from SWIFT in escalated move to isolate Putin for attack on Ukraine

An apartment building damaged following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, February 26, 2022. (IANS/Twitter)

US, allies remove Russian banks from SWIFT in escalated move to isolate Putin for attack on Ukraine

Washington, February 27, 2022

The United States, several European nations and Canada on Saturday announced the removal of selected Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system that connects thousands of banking and securities organisations around the world as part of escalated economic measures against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

This will ensure that these Russian banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally, a joint statement by the leaders of the United States, Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom, released here by the White House, said.

Headquartered in Belgium, SWIFT is a global member-owned cooperative and the world’s leading provider of secure financial messaging services. Its messaging platform, products and services connect more than 11,000 banking and securities organisations, market infrastructures and corporate customers in more than 200 countries and territories, enabling them to communicate securely and exchange standardised financial messages in a reliable way.

The statement condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin's "war of choice and attacks on the sovereign nation and people of Ukraine" and said they would hold Moscow to account and collectively ensure that the war is a "strategic failure for Putin".

"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 the Second World War, which we are committed to defending.

"This past week, alongside our diplomatic efforts and collective work to defend our own borders and to assist the Ukrainian government and people in their fight, we, as well as our other allies and partners around the world, imposed severe measures on key Russian institutions and banks, and on the architects of this war, including Russian President Vladimir Putin," it said.

"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. We will implement these measures within the coming days," the statement.

The leaders committed to imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of their sanctions.

"Third, we commit to acting 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.

"Fourth, we commit to launching this coming week a transatlantic task force that will ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions by identifying and freezing the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within our jurisdictions. As a part of this effort we are committed to employing sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families, and their enablers to identify and freeze the assets they hold in our jurisdictions. 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.

"Finally, we will step up or coordination against disinformation and other forms of hybrid warfare," the statement said.

Declaring that they stood with the Ukrainian people in this "dark hour", the leaders said that, even beyond the measures announced on Saturday, they were prepared to take further steps to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine.

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