United States, Canada, European allies move to block 'selected' Russian banks from SWIFT

The joint statement says that 'selected' Russian banks will be removed from the SWIFT financial system.

The United States, Canada, and other European allies released a joint statement on additional sanctions being placed on Russia, which states that "selected" Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT financial system.

"We commit to ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system. This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally," reads the joint statement from leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, which was released on Saturday.

The new sanction on certain Russian banks comes as Ukraine enters day four of the Russian invasion.

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks as he attends the G20 summit via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. The two-day Group of 20 summit is the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world's biggest economies since the (Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP / AP Newsroom)


SWIFT provides messaging services to banks in over 200 countries, and is controlled by the central banks of the G-10, including Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Sweden.

The sanction has been used on EU-sanctioned banks in Iran in 2012 and in 2018.

According to the joint statement, the countries are committing to imposing "restrictive measures" which are intended to "prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions."

The joint statement by leaders of the United States, Canada, and European countries also commits to limit "golden passports" that allow wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government to become citizens of the countries.

"Specifically, we commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship—so called golden passports—that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems," the joint statement reads.


Russia's President Vladimir Putin appears on a television screen at the stock market in Frankfurt, Germany, Feb. 25, 2022. Russia is revving up its sophisticated propaganda machine as its military advances in neighboring Ukraine. Analysts who monitor (AP Photo/Michael Probst, File / AP Newsroom)

The countries will also launch a "transatlantic task force" aimed at effectively implementing the financial sanctions, and will also "step up" coordination against disinformation regarding the Russian invasion.

"We stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark hour. Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further measures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine," the joint statement reads. "As Russian forces unleash their assault on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, we are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies. We will implement these measures within the coming days."

A senior Biden administration official said that the moves are intended to "isolate Russia from the global financial system."

The senior administration official said that there is "great confidence" that the sanctions will be "felt immediately in Russian financial markets."

SWIFT was described by the administration official as "Gmail for banks," and explained what the intended effect will be on the sanctioned banks.

"If one of these de-SWIFTED and Russian banks wants to make or receive a payment with a bank outside of Russia, such as a bank in Asia, it will now need to use the telephone or a fax machine. And in all likelihood most banks around the world will simply stop transacting altogether with Russian banks that are removed from SWIFT," the senior administration official said.


German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, right, and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, meet for bilateral talks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022.  (Sven Hoppe/Pool via AP / AP Newsroom)

The new sanction which cuts certain banks off from the SWIFT financial system comes just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed support for the financial sanction while on a phone call.

FOX Business' Breck Dumas contributed to this report