Russian banks may be barred from using SWIFT, a payment system that enables reliable and secure financial transactions, under restrictions against Moscow, in what one official called a potential “spiral of sanctions.”
“It’s no secret that there are threats, mainly from the United States, to disconnect Russia from the SWIFT system,” said Dmitry Birichevsky, director of the economic cooperation department of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Speaking on RIA Novosti on Monday, the diplomat noted that Russia was concerned that SWIFT could be caught in a “Spiral of sanctions”, led by Washington.
However, the senior official does not believe America will act any time soon in the face of this threat.
“I am convinced that we will not be disconnected from SWIFT anytime soon, and maybe never” he said, noting that Russia would be able to conclude payment agreements with its trading partners anyway.
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“Since 2014, Russia has been working on its own payment system. This system already exists. he explained. “We all use the MIR card. It is also accepted in a number of neighboring countries and in Turkey. Negotiations are also underway with other partners.
Last month, politicians in the European Parliament voted in favor of a resolution condemning what they called “Military posture near the country’s border with Ukraine”. MEPs agreed that, “If the military reinforcement should lead to an invasion”, Moscow should be excluded from SWIFT, along with other economic measures.
Proposals to cut Moscow off from the world’s leading international payment system are not new. After seven years of threats, Russia is now in a position where losing access to SWIFT would no longer be a disastrous blow. The country has created its own alternative, called SPFS, which works nationally, and Moscow is looking to expand the system internationally.
READ MORE: Cutting Russia off SWIFT would mean declaration of war – Russian PM
Moscow has already warned it would consider such a move “a declaration of war”. Former Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who is now deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, also called him “punch in the stomach.”
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