White House: Kicking Russia out of SWIFT unlikely to be in initial sanctions package

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens during a meeting at the Kremlin

The White House said on Friday that removing Russia from the SWIFT international banking system, if it decides to invade Ukraine, is not part of the first sanctions package the Biden administration would impose.

“All options remain on the table. But it’s probably not going to be the case that you’ll see SWIFT in the initial roll out package,” Daleep Singh, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters.

“We have other severe measures we can take that our allies and partners are ready to take in lockstep with us, and that don’t have the same spillover effects. But we always will monitor these options and we’ll revise our judgements as time goes on,” he added.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a system that handles international financial transfers and is overseen by the G-10 central banks. More than 200 countries are part of SWIFT and over 11,000 financial institutions use it.

Singh said we are “converging on the final package” if Russia launches a full-scale invasion in Ukraine. The cost to Russia from the sanctions package would be “immense” to its economy and strategic position, he added.

Singh defended the decision to not kick Russia out of SWIFT when asked about previous comments that the administration would impose the maximum sanctions at the get go.

“I can assure you the measures that we have prepared, the severity of those measures, and the institutions that we would impose them upon, and the immediacy of those sanctions are among the most severe financial sanctions that have ever been contemplated,” he said.

The White House commended the work between the U.S. and Western allies to create a sanctions package.

“The unity and coordination we’ve seen over the last few months is unlike anything we’ve experienced,” Singh said.

The White House also said on Friday it believes that Russian government hackers are behind cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and banks in Ukraine earlier this week.

President Biden has warned that Russia could invade Ukraine in the next several days and spoke to NATO allies on Friday about Russia’s buildup of military troops on the border of Ukraine.

Tags Joe Biden Russia Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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