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Western nations isolate Russia's economy by kicking them out of SWIFT

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ADEM ALTAN/AFP via Getty Images

In a drastic move to sanction Russia for invading Ukraine, the leadership of several Western nations agreed to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT communication network.

In a joint statement, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States committed to removing specific Russian banks from the SWIFT network.

“We stand with the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people in their heroic efforts to resist Russia’s invasion,” the statement proclaimed, “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. We will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin.”

“As Russian forces unleash their assault on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities,” the statement continued, “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 Western leaders committed to:

  • “Ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system.”
  • “Imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions.”
  • “Acting against the people and entities who facilitate the war in Ukraine” and to “limit the sale of citizenship … that let wealthy Russians connected to the government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”
  • “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.”

The Western leaders made clear that it would work with governments across the globe to “detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains” and would “deny” prominent Russian figures the ability to launder their wealth abroad.

By preventing Russia from utilizing the SWIFT communication network, Western leaders will effectively isolate them and inhibit them from conducting trade with many of its largest trade partners. This move will also interfere with Russia’s ability to export natural gas and oil, which makes up more than half of the country’s GDP.

The statement ended with a declaration of solidarity with the Ukrainian people “in this dark hour” and affirmed that the West is prepared to launch stricter sanctions against Russia should it become necessary to do so.

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