The EU-27 have excluded seven Russian banks from the Swift international financial system, but spared two institutions linked to oil sales, according to the EU’s Official Journal.
Intended to partially cut off the Russian economy from global finance in retaliation for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the SWIFT exclusion targets VTB, Russia’s second largest bank, as well as Bank Otkritie, Novikombank (industrial finance), Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank and VEB (the regime’s development bank).
The measure will be effective from 12 March, according to the Official Journal. However, the measure does not target Sberbank, the country’s largest bank, or Gazprombank, the financial arm of the hydrocarbon giant, through which most of the payments for Russian gas and oil deliveries to the EU are channelled.
Germany and Italy had feared in recent days that they would no longer be able to pay for their supplies of Russian gas, on which they are heavily dependent, if the Russian banks responsible for these transactions were blocked from accessing SWIFT. The exclusion of SWIFT is presented as a financial “atomic weapon”: this secure messaging platform allows operations such as the transit of payment orders and fund transfer orders between banks.