Suspending Russia from an international system of financial transactions, SWIFT, could massively backfire on the West, according to the Deputy Speaker of the Russian Senate Nikolay Zhuravlev.
Last Sunday, the British media reported that London considers supporting Russia’s suspension from SWIFT in case of its hypothetical “invasion” of Ukraine. The US officials confirmed the intention claiming that “no option is off the table.”
Zhuravlev noted that SWIFT is a payment system, a service, so cutting Russia off would mean that Moscow could not process payments in foreign currencies. That may leave Russia’s trading partners, primarily Western Europe, unable to receive goods they import from Russia. Thus, Russian oil, gas, and metals, as well as other “important imported products” would be unable to reach the West European market.
“Do they need that? I doubt it,” Zhuravlev said.
The Senate’s deputy speaker also expressed his belief that a decision by the US and the UK might not be enough to push SWIFT into cutting Russia off from its services, as nations that have a sizable amount of trade with Russia would hardly take such pressure lightly. The official pointed to the fact that SWIFT is an association of many nations, so it would need “a unanimous decision by all member states” for a country to be cut off from it.
“I am not sure that other countries, especially those with a large balance of trade with Russia, will support the shutdown,” Zhuravlev said.
Besides, Zhuravlev noted that even though SWIFT is convenient and fast, it is not unique. He reminded that Russia and China have already created their own systems of financial transactions, with the Russian system including already over 400 institutions within its network.