Russian banks excluded from SWIFT

International sanctions Russian banks excluded from SWIFT

Germany and its international allies decided on Saturday to exclude Russian banks from the SWIFT system. The 27 EU heads of state and government met for a six-hour crisis summit on Friday. They agreed on a comprehensive package of sanctions against Russia in response to its attack on Ukraine. 


There has been a further toughening of sanctions against Russia. In a gesture of solidarity the Ukrainian flag was also hoisted outside the Federal Chancellery.

Photo: Bundesregierung/Bergmann

In response to the continued attacks by Russian forces in Ukraine, the United States, France, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, the EU Commission and Germany agreed on Saturday to impose further tough financial sanctions on Russia. Exclusion from the international payment services system SWIFT will apply to all the Russian banks already sanctioned by the international community as well as to other Russian banks as necessary. The aim is to cut these institutions off from the international flow of money, thereby imposing massive restraints on their global operations. 

Restriction of financial transactions

In addition, the countries decided to further restrict the Russian central bank’s ability to support the rouble through international financial transactions. The sanctions also target individuals and institutions in Russia and elsewhere that support the war against Ukraine. In particular, wealthy Russians and their family members are no longer to be able to obtain a so-called ‘golden passport’, which previously gave them access to European citizenship.

A working group comprising representatives of the US and the European Union will also be established to ensure the prompt implementation of the sanctions, including freezing the assets of sanctioned individuals, their families and companies. The countries stressed that they were prepared to take further measures if Russia did not cease its attack against Ukraine and against the European peace order.

EU sanctions package against Russia

“Today is a very difficult day for peace in Europe,” said Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Thursday before the meeting of the 27 heads of state and government in Brussels. It was now important for the EU member states to stand together and take resolute action, he said. 

At their six-hour crisis meeting, the European Council unanimously condemned Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. The heads of state and government also agreed on a new, tougher package of sanctions against Russia.

The punitive measures target the Russian economy and political elite, covering five areas in particular: 

  • Financial sector: 70 percent of the Russian banking market and key state-owned enterprises – including in the defence sector – are to be cut off from the main capital markets.
  • Energy sector: Export bans are to be imposed with a particular focus on making it impossible for Russia to modernise its oil refineries. 
  • Transport sector: The sale of aircraft and equipment to Russian airlines is to be banned.
  • Industrial sector: Russia’s access to key technologies such as semiconductors and state-of-the-art software will be restricted.
  • Granting of visas:  Diplomats, business professionals and similar groups will lose their privileged access to the European Union.

The sanctions package is to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers of the EU states on Friday. The EU thus stands united in the face of Russian military action, which constitutes a massive violation of international law, undermining security and stability in Europe and worldwide.

See here for the text of the conclusions of the European Council.