Biden and EU Refuse to Do This One Thing That Would Nearly Destroy the Russian Economy

AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is a global network for payments between banks. International trade and finance would be next to impossible without it.


Indeed, cutting off a country from the SWIFT system would be a death sentence for its economy. There just isn’t a good alternative that a nation could use.

So why doesn’t Biden lower the boom on Putin and really make invading Ukraine not worth it?

Kicking Russia out of the SWIFT network could lead to mass unemployment as well as shortages of everything from food to electronics.

Except for vodka. Russia will always have enough vodka to see them through any crisis.

GZero Media:

It would swing a wrecking ball through the Russian economy and financial system, making it almost impossible for Russians and Russian companies to do electronic business with banks or companies in other countries. Former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin once estimated that losing access to SWIFT alone would cause Russian GDP to shrink 5%. Crucially, losing SWIFT access could complicate Russia’s ability to take payment for natural gas shipments to Europe. Virtually overnight, the Kremlin would lose its largest gas consumer, and the Europeans would lose their largest source of energy imports. (This is why some Europeans are skittish about booting Russia from SWIFT.)

The only problem is that Russia is part of an interdependent and interlocking system of finance and trade. Without natural gas payments, Russia may sink into a depression. But Europe would freeze.


Several EU sources had told Reuters before the sanctions were announced that the EU was unlikely to agree to the move, despite calls from various quarters to do so.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany – a key trading partner of Russia – opposed cutting off Russia’s access to the payment system at this point, but also suggested such a step could still follow at a later stage.

“It is very important that we agree those measures that have been prepared – and keep everything else for a situation where it may be necessary to go beyond that,” Scholz told reporters, responding to a question on SWIFT, as he arrived to an emergency summit set to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The continent of Europe is on fire, Russian troops are on the march, Ukrainians are getting slaughtered, and tens of thousands — soon to be hundreds of thousands — of refugees are clogging the roads of eastern Europe.

But allowing Russia to continue using SWIFT is a sanction that can be saved for a “situation where it may be necessary to go beyond that”?

For God’s sake, man. How much farther can Russia go before Germany wakes up? What “later stage” is there going to be that would be more serious than what’s happening now?


Perhaps Scholz wants to wait until Putin sets up a guillotine in the middle of Kyiv and starts taking heads?

This is why Biden and U.S. allies are not serious about stopping Putin. Biden has not done everything possible short of war to halt the Russian invasion. There were other actions he could have taken — admittedly, more provocative and more dangerous. But if Biden isn’t willing to take risks to stop Putin, why should our NATO allies?

Unless Putin has lost all touch with reality, he will stop to digest his Ukraine conquest before moving on to his next target. There, it is hoped he will meet more resistance than the milquetoast responses from Biden and NATO.


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