The European Union wants to “hit” Moscow leaders with its additional sanctions package whether or not SWIFT is included, according to a senior EU diplomat.
Earlier Thursday, CNN reported that the bloc was undecided about whether to cut Russia off from SWIFT, a high-security payment network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world.
The diplomat told reporters at a briefing that the combination of Tuesday’s package with the new package due to come into effect from Friday will be “really focused on hitting the leaders in Moscow and those around Mr. Putin and profit from this war”.
EU leaders are expected to discuss the sanctions at an emergency summit in Brussels on Thursday evening.
The diplomat told CNN that they expect “leaders to focus on sharing their thoughts and political positions on the big things and not on discussing certain measures in detail.”
“We want the biggest possible package targeting industrial sectors, export controls, finance, maybe visa policy. SWIFT is one element, but it’s not the center of attention,” said the diplomat to journalists.
The diplomat underlined that SWIFT is “on the table” and will always be considered whether or not it is included in the new package.
“The first priority now is this very maximalist EU sanctions package,” they said.
SWIFT may be needed “for things that are very relevant to some EU member states”, the diplomat said, adding that this does not necessarily mean “it is excluded”.
Earlier today, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania called for Russia to be cut off from SWIFT.
“We want this war to end here and now. And we are not going to close the front doors and the back doors, which make it difficult to stop this war started by Mr. Putin as soon as possible,” the diplomat warned.
The diplomat stressed the need to keep “certain doors open” allowing the dialogue necessary “to stop a war”.
Although questioned several times, the diplomat did not explain why Russian President Vladimir Putin was not directly targeted by the sanctions.
EU member states that are “closest to Ukraine” also deserve empathy, the diplomat said, noting that they are “now facing, in the 21st century, something we thought left behind us in the previous century”.