KYIV, Feb 26 — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky today again asked European nations to sever Russia from the SWIFT banking system as Hungary and Italy suggested they were not blocking the move.
SWIFT’s messaging system allows banks to communicate rapidly and securely about transactions, and cutting Russia off would cripple its trade with most of the world.
“There is already almost full support from the EU countries to disconnect Russia from SWIFT. I hope that Germany and Hungary will have the courage to support this decision,” Zelensky said in a video address posted online.
The Hungarian government angrily denied suggestions it had blocked moves to exclude Russia from SWIFT.
Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said on Facebook that such claims were “fake news”.
“We have never spoken out against a single sanction proposal, we have not blocked and are not blocking anything,” he said.
Government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs further tweeted that “Hungary stands 100 per cent in alignment with the joint EU effort.
“We’re doing no less than what the EU position calls for. And it’s not dependent on Hungary to do more,” he added.
However, neither statement explicitly clarified whether Budapest was in favour of the move.
Germany has been more cautious about excluding Russia from SWIFT. Russian gas makes up a higher share of energy supplies in Germany and other parts of Europe than in France, which backs the move.
Italy has been another country which has have been reluctant to exclude Russia from SWIFT over fears Moscow could cut off key gas supplies.
Italian Prime Minster Mario Draghi spoke to Zelensky today and “reaffirmed... that Italy will fully support the EU line on sanctions against Russia, including those relating to SWIFT,” according to an official statement released by the Italian government after the phone call.
Iran has been disconnected from the SWIFT system in the past over its nuclear programme.
Russia meanwhile has been developing domestic financial infrastructure to counter such a threat, including the SPFS system for bank transfers and the Mir card payments system.
Cutting off Russia could complicate remaining trade with Europe. — AFP