US, EU considering final decision on Russia SWIFT ban – media

Meanwhile, Ukraine says preparations already underway to expel Russia from global banking network

US President Joe Biden is “seriously weighing” support for suspending key Russian banks and financial entities from the SWIFT network, CNN reported on Saturday. Though such a move would also require the support of the EU, whose members have not yet officially announced a final decision on it, Ukraine’s foreign minister claims “technical preparation for the decision” has already begun.

According to CNN, Biden is considering supporting the expulsion of Russia from the SWIFT network, which facilitates cross-border payments between the world’s banks and financial institutions. While CNN quoted some US officials as saying Biden is considering cutting off Russia entirely from the system, others told the network that the removal of only certain “banks and entities” is being considered.

The Biden administration has discussed a potential ban with the US Federal Reserve and EU leaders, the report claimed.

Biden imposed sanctions on Russia after Moscow launched a military offensive in Ukraine on Thursday. At the time he ruled out excommunicating Russia from SWIFT, telling reporters “that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take.”

However, in the days that followed, more and more European countries have come out in favor of a ban. Italy, which depends heavily on Russian energy imports, signaled its support on Saturday, while Hungary also came on board, according to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Germany remains reluctant, with Finance Minister Christian Lindner saying on Friday that Berlin must first weigh the cost of backing the measure. Germany relies on Russia for more than half of its natural gas imports, a reliance set to deepen following its closure of nuclear power plants.

According to a Facebook post by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday, plans are already underway to remove Russia from the network. “The official decision has not yet been made, but the technical preparation for the decision and the implementation of this sanction has already begun,” Kuleba wrote, describing the supposedly impending ban as a “victory” for “all defenders of Ukraine.”

Despite the support for such a ban in Europe and the US, opponents argue that expelling Russia from SWIFT could not only harm Russians, but also Western countries that trade with Russia. Furthermore, they argue that such a move would facilitate the emergence of rival systems, like China’s CIPS, and hasten the US dollar’s demise as the world’s reserve currency.

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