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EU bans 7 Russian banks from SWIFT international payment system

EU bans 7 Russian banks from SWIFT international payment system
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication banned seven Russian banks Wednesday, from using its system after a resolution made by the European Union to further restrict Russia's economy in response to its ongoing attack on Ukraine. File Photo by Jacques Collet/EPA-EFE

March 2 (UPI) -- The European Union on Wednesday formally banned seven Russian banks from using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication system in response to the country's invasion Ukraine.

SWIFT said it removed the seven banks from its system in compliance with a resolution by the European Council, the EU's political body. The council introduced the measures to further restrict Russia's economy.

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The SWIFT network is a high-security payment system that connects world banks. Several countries have called for Russia to be disconnected from it, which would significantly damage its ability to conduct business globally. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was one of the first world leaders to call for the sanction.

The banks are all believed to have close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The ban excludes Sberbank and Gazprombank, which are two of the country's biggest institutions. The two handle most of the gas and oil export payments with the EU.

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"Our deepest thoughts are with those suffering the tragic human consequences of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Equality, diversity, mutual respect and global cooperation are the bedrock SWIFT stands on, and the ideals we stand for as a global and politically neutral cooperative," reads a statement on the SWIFT website.

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"Diplomatic decisions taken by the European Union, in consultation with the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States, bring SWIFT into efforts to end this crisis by requiring us to disconnect select Russian banks from our financial messaging services. As previously stated, we will fully comply with applicable sanctions laws. This Regulation requires us to disconnect the identified entities on 12 March 2022, and we will do so accordingly."

The White House issued a joint statement Saturday, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Canada, all calling for select Russian banks to be removed from the SWIFT system.

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Wednesday's EU resolution also prohibits anyone from investing, participating or contributing to future projects co-financed by the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

They may also not "sell, supply, transfer or export euro denominated banknotes to Russia or to any natural or legal person, entity or body in Russia, including the government and the Central Bank of Russia, or for use in Russia."

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Scenes from the Russian war on Ukraine

European Union leaders attend a summit at the Chateau de Versailles near Paris on March 11, 2022. Photo by the European Union/ UPI | License Photo

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