The measure will not be included in the first package of sanctions against Russia in the event of military action in Ukraine, although the White House warns that it has prepared “more stringent measures”.
The White House has confirmed that among the first sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine, Moscow’s expulsion from the rapid banking data system will not be considered, a punishment with economic ramifications that has been proposed for weeks.
“All options are still on the table, but you likely won’t see Swift in the first sanctions package,” said Dalip Singh, US President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser.
According to the official, the United States is preparing a “final package” of sanctions that includes the “most severe measures” ever evaluated against Russia, including “strong export controls” and economic sanctions.
And although the official did not specify the type of sanctions, he stressed that the strike would be “tremendous” for Russia, both for its economy and for its strategic position in the world.
Democratic and Republican senators were considering exiting the Swift system as part of the sanctions. The Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez, and Jim Risch, the highest-ranking Republican on that committee, have been negotiating possible sanctions against a possible invasion for weeks.
Swift is the foundation of the global financial system and is used by at least 11,000 banks in 200 countries or regions to make transfers. Getting Russia out of this system has been called the “nuclear option” because of the enormous consequences that it would have for the economy.
The last time this punishment was applied against Iran was in 2012, after the European Union imposed sanctions under pressure from the United States, which contributed to the deterioration of the Persian economy.
Tensions continued to escalate on the Ukraine-Russia border after Russian-backed separatists evacuated one of Ukraine’s eastern regions on Friday. The West believes that Moscow will use this conflict as a justification for invading its neighbour, while Russia denies it has plans to attack.