Germany agrees to cut Russia out of SWIFT payment system in about-face
Clean Energy Wire
Germany has agreed with its Western allies to oust Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments system in response to the war in Ukraine. The sanctions agreed by Germany, France, the European Commission, the U.S., Great Britain and Canada will also limit the ability of Russia's central bank to support the rouble, a government spokesperson said. “We are working flat out on how to limit the collateral damage of decoupling from SWIFT in such a way that it affects the right people,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said in a statement. Banks and companies use SWIFT for financial transactions, which makes the system key to the global economy. An exclusion from SWIFT could cause serious damage to the Russian economy. However, payments made for energy and raw material supplies are excluded from the SWIFT decoupling measure, the government said on Monday.
Germany had previously been putting up the biggest opposition to Russia's exclusion from SWIFT, underscoring severe implications for European banks and for the import of energy and raw materials from Russia. German finance minister Christian Lindner last week said "there is a high risk that Germany will no longer be supplied with gas or raw materials" in case of a Russian exclusion. The European Union receives 40 percent of its natural gas imports, 25.5 percent of its oil and 49 percent of its hard coal from Russia (2020 data). In Germany, the share of Russian gas on total imports is at 55 percent.