Swift: EU leaders line up to support Russia’s banking network ban | European Union

A growing number of EU countries – including France, Italy, Spain and Greece – have said they would support a ban on Russia using global payment network Swift in the intended to exert additional pressure on the country after its invasion of Ukraine.

Cyprus and Hungary have also said they would support such a measure.

The move, which it is hoped would affect Russian trade by making it harder for the country’s companies to do business, is being considered to step up sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s regime.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned on Thursday that politicians in Europe and the United States would have “blood on their hands” if they did not support a ban. The following day, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said a ban had not achieved “the necessary unanimity”, but would remain a possibility for future consideration.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday she did not believe a ban was the best solution and French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said it should only be used in last resort.

But on Saturday, Kuleba said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian backed Swift’s separation from Russia in a phone call with him. Writing on Twitter, he also said France was ready to supply Ukraine with weapons and military equipment.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s office also said it would support any EU sanctions. In a statement, his office said Draghi spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Saturday, reiterating that the country would “fully support the European Union line on sanctions against Russia, including on Swift.”

Greece said it would support any EU line on sanctions against Russia. A senior government official told Reuters: “Greece will support the EU line on sanctions, including on Swift.”

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greece’s prime minister, also called Zelenskiy on Saturday, saying the country supported the toughest EU sanctions and was ready to provide assistance.

The Spanish government has said it supports Russia’s withdrawal from the Swift system. A spokeswoman said Madrid have been in favor since the idea was proposed. “At [Friday Spain’s foreign minister Jose Manuel] Albares, speaking after the EU foreign affairs council, made it clear that Spain supports expelling Russia from the financial transaction data exchange mechanism,” she added.

Hungary said it would support all EU sanctions.

Speaking during a visit to the Ukrainian-Hungarian border, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said: “Hungary has made it clear that we support all sanctions, so we will not block anything, so what the prime ministers of the European Union are able to accept , we accept it and we support it. He added: “This is the time to be united, this is a war.”

Cypriot Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides said Cyprus would not object to EU sanctions either.

“In the name of EU unity and solidarity with the Ukrainian people, Cyprus did not oppose any EU sanctions, including Russia’s cutting of Swift,” Petrides wrote on Twitteradding that “everything is on the table”.

This followed speculation that Cyprus, which has significant trade ties with Russia and Ukraine, was among the countries reluctant to cut Russia off from Swift.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has pushed for Russia to ban Swift, but said on Friday it was not under Britain’s control.

Meanwhile, the governor of a euro zone central bank said on Saturday that a decision on Swift would be made in days and that a ban was “just a matter of time”.

The anonymous banker told Reuters: “Is that enough? No. Is it necessary? Absoutely. Sanctions only make sense if there are costs for both parties and that will be expensive.

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