Russia comments on chances of expulsion from SWIFT
Despite constant threats from the West about disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international bank payment system, there is no real prospect of that actually happening, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Tuesday.
Speaking to RIA Novosti, Dmitriy Birichevsky, the head of the ministry’s economic cooperation department, also noted that SWIFT is an international private company with headquarters in Belgium, and it is not clear just how effectively the Americans could convince them to cut Russia off.
“We all understand perfectly well that the leverage of the United States is still great, so we are ready for any surprises,” the diplomat said. “However, I repeat – there is no real prospect of disconnecting Russia from SWIFT. We have emphasized it many times during the year.”
According to Birichevsky, the threat of being banned from SWIFT “periodically” returns and then fades away without any action being taken. It was first seriously floated in 2014, after the reabsorption of Crimea into Russia following a referendum. The vast majority of the world considers the vote illegitimate and views the peninsula as illegally occupied by Moscow.
Earlier this week, Olga Skorobogatova, First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia, suggested that Russia would be spared exclusion from SWIFT because such an action would not be beneficial to other states.
“SWIFT is a cooperative, with more than 100 countries involved,” she said. “We hope that this will not happen because it is not profitable for other countries and other regulators in regards to business conducted between our countries,” she said.
Earlier this month, citing anonymous sources, CNN reported that the White House is considering the imposition of sanctions on Russian government debt and the exclusion of the country from the SWIFT system as part of measures to deter an invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied it is planning a military incursion into the country.