U.S., some European nations and Canada to exclude Russia from SWIFT payments

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Feb. 26 (UPI) — The United States with some European nations and Canada issued a joint statement Saturday announcing that Russia would be excluded from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication network.

The exclusion from SWIFT, a high-security payment system that connects world banks, is a severe penalty for Russia that is expected to significantly damage Russia’s ability to conduct business globally. It is expected to be implemented “within the coming days.”

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The U.S. was joined in the statement by the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Britain and Canada — effectively the Group of Seven without Japan.

“Russia’s war represents an assault on fundamental international rules and norms that have prevailed since the Second World War, which we are committed to defending,” the statement reads. “We will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin.”

The nations said that each would “continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies.”The Russian Central Bank will also face restrictive measures to prevent it from deploying measures that would undermine the impact of sanctions that have been imposed on Russian leaders.

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The nations also announced that they would work to prevent Russian oligarchs from buying “golden passports” that would allow them to become citizens of other countries.

“We commit to acting against the people and entities who facilitate the war in Ukraine and the harmful activities of the Russian government,” the statement reads.

An international task force will also be created to identify and freeze the assets of Russian elites and their families within the jurisdiction of each nation “to ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions.”

“We stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark hour,” the statement reads. “Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further measures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine.”

The move comes after world leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had lobbied for excluding Russia from SWIFT payments.

“We have made it clear that all options are on the table when it comes to imposing steep costs on Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion,” Trudeau said on Friday. “Excluding Russian banks from SWIFT would make it even more difficult for President Putin to finance his brutalities.”