The European Union is drawing closer to a decision on expelling or restricting Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the messaging network underpinning global financial transactions, as more member nations came out in support of the move.
In blocking Russia from SWIFT, the European Union would block Russian institutions from conducting any interbank transactions with non-Russian entities, effectively cutting it off from the global financial system. The move came days after Russian military forces launched attacks on various cities and military bases in Ukraine, including in the nation’s capitol Kiev.
Italy, Hungary and Cyprus were initially opposed to the move, but expressed support for it on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, Germany is in favor of “targeted and functional” restrictions on Russia.
“We are working flat out on how to limit the collateral damage of decoupling from SWIFT in such a way that it affects the right people,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said in a statement on Saturday, according to Bloomberg.
Given that SWIFT is based in Belgium, support across the European bloc was critical to expel any country, such as Russia.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden is considering publicly supporting the decision to remove Russia from SWIFT.
On Friday, Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said during a press briefing that the administration had never taken a SWIFT ban on Russia off the table
“So, certainly, there’ll be ongoing discussions about that. As you know, SWIFT is a messaging service that connects 11,000 banks. And many would argue that there are ways that — that Russia — the Russian leadership could get around that over the course of time, but it certainly remains an option on the table,” Psaki said.