EU, UK, Canada, US pledge to remove selected Russian banks from SWIFT

Russian President Vladimir Putin enters the St. George Hall at the Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

Mikhail Klimentyev | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON —The United States, European allies and Canada agreed Saturday to remove key Russian banks from the interbank messaging system, SWIFT, an extraordinary step that will sever the country from much of the global financial system.

“This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the global powers wrote in a joint statement announcing the significant retaliatory measure.

Moscow’s exclusion from SWIFT, which stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, means Russian banks cannot communicate securely with banks beyond its borders. Iran was removed from SWIFT in 2014 following developments to Tehran’s nuclear program.

SWIFT is an independent enterprise based in Belgium that serves as an internal messaging system between more than 11,000 banks and financial institutions in over 200 countries and territories.

SWIFT did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

In addition, the United States, European Union and Canada announced that they will impose restrictive measures aimed at preventing the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that may undermine sanctions.

The stunning announcement follows multiple rounds of joint sanctions imposed against Russia for its unprovoked assault on Ukraine.

On Friday, the United States alongside the United Kingdom and the European Union announced stunning sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

In the weeks leading up to the invasion, the Biden administration said the threat of severe sanctions was intended to serve as a deterrent to Putin.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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