Boris Johnson to make renewed plea to lock Russia out of crucial banking system

In talks with Nato leaders this afternoon, Boris Johnson is to renew his call for Russia to be excluded from a crucial international bank transfer system.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has urged Western powers to act immediately to lock Russia out of the Swift system, which would place a significant barrier to its oil and gas industries receiving payments from abroad.

The move was included in the package of sanctions unveiled by Mr Johnson on Thursday, but has been resisted by Germany and Italy, with France also expressing reservations. The UK cannot go ahead without the agreement of partners in the Belgian-based system.

Mr Johnson failed in a bid to secure agreement on the measure in talks with G7 leaders on Thursday, but will pursue the issue again in a conference call with Nato allies today, said Downing Street.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Britain was ready to “work all day” to get Swift turned off for Russia, but stressed that this can only be done with the agreement of all partners in the system.

“We want it switched off. Other countries do not,” he told the BBC. We will work all the magic, do everything we can in diplomacy, the prime minister is going to address the Nato leaders summit today.”

A spokesperson for chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, Steffen Hebestreit, said on Friday that Russian suspension would be technically difficult and would have a massive impact on transactions for Germany and German businesses in Russia.

The Swift system is a global messaging network used by almost all financial institutions worldwide to wire sums of money to each other and is a cornerstone of the international payments system.

But there are concerns in capitals including Washington that Moscow could respond to exclusion by joining a parallel system being developed by China which is not tied to US dollars.

US president Joe Biden has played down the need to block Russia from Swift, saying that while it is “always” an option, “right now that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take.”

“The sanctions we’ve imposed exceed Swift,” said Biden. “Let’s have a conversation in another month or so to see if they’re working.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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