With anti-Russian sanctions gathering momentum, particularly in the US, President Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov says he does not exclude the possibility of Russia being unplugged from the SWIFT financial network.
“We cannot rule out any of the potential threats… These actions are unreasonable and unpredictable, therefore, of course, this situation obliges us to be on the alert,” Peskov told reporters on Monday after being asked whether the Kremlin views potential disconnection of Russia from the global payment system as a serious threat.
Washington has been threatening to disconnect Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) for years. Moscow has responded by creating a domestic alternative to the payment system called SPFS, or the System for Transfer of Financial Messages. It is set to be linked with the Chinese cross-border interbank payment system CIPS and India’s future payment mechanism. The Russian payment system will also work with Iran’s SEPAM, as Iranian banks have had no access to SWIFT since 2018 after the US reinstated sanctions.
SWIFT is a financial network that provides high-value cross-border transfers for members across the world. It is based in Belgium, but its board includes executives from US banks with US federal law allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe. It supports most interbank messages, connecting over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories. The European Union is also working on an alternative to SWIFT. The project, promoted by Germany, will help Brussels to bypass US sanctions against Iran.
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