US Could Disconnect Russia from SWIFT Payments to Deter Ukraine Invasion

US, Russia, Biden, Putin, SWIFT, Sanctions, Ukraine, invasion

Sanctions against Russia by the U.S. are being weighed to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching an invasion into Ukraine, including severing the country from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks worldwide, CNN reported on Monday (Dec. 6), citing sources.

Final decisions regarding the direction are still in the works, with the Biden administration in discussions with European partners to coordinate any action.

A senior Biden official said that if Russia moves forward with military force in Ukraine, the U.S. was ready to take countermeasures that could hurt Russia’s economy, according to CNN.

“We believe that there is way forward here that will allow us to send a clear message to Russia there will be genuine and meaningful and enduring costs to choosing to go forward — should they choose to go forward — with a military escalation,” the official said in a press briefing ahead of Biden’s planned video call with Putin on Tuesday (Dec. 7).

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Although the unnamed official didn’t point to specific economic sanctions being considered, they said the U.S. had “intensive discussions with our European partners about what we would do collectively in the event of a major Russian military escalation.”

The economic sanctions could go after several Russian industries, including energy producers and financial institutions, the sources told CNN.

However, the sanctions could also target Russia’s sovereign debt as well as Russian oligarchs, curtailing their ability to travel and possibly severing access to American banking and credit card systems.

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Disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international payment system is also being considered, two sources familiar with the discussions told CNN. The European Parliament already passed a nonbinding resolution calling for the move if Russia invades Ukraine.

A senior Biden administration official also said there have been talks about disallowing Russian energy producers from debt markets in the event of an invasion.

“We have put together a pretty damn aggressive package,” the official said, adding that Russia has been warned that if it invades Ukraine, the U.S. and Europe will together impose economic sanctions.

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