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Global Economy

SWIFT: Germany stands alone – Russia will be banned because of Ukraine #SWIFTBan

Germany #SWIFTBan is trending topic on Twitter this Saturday. Pressure is growing on the German government to agree to Russia's exclusion from the international payment system SWIFT (for "Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication").

Italy and apparently even Hungary have also given up their opposition to excluding Russia from SWIFT.

Payments between more than 11,000 banks and financial service providers in around 200 countries are processed via SWIFT. So far, only Iran has been excluded from the system as part of sanctions.

Olaf Scholz received the Lithuanian President and the Polish Prime Minister in Berlin. Both wanted to lobby the chancellor for Germany to support Russia's exclusion from SWIFT.

Baerbock warns of "collateral damage"

On Friday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock spoke of possible "massive collateral damage" that Russia's exclusion could entail. Baerbock warned of energy shortages on ARD. "We would do everything we could to stop this madness. But we also have to make sure that we don't choose instruments that Putin ends up laughing at because they hit us much harder."

The Green member of the Bundestag, Jürgen Trittin, listed further arguments in an interview with SPIEGEL: "An immediate end to all payment transactions would not only mean that all Russians could no longer use their credit cards, but that transfers to relatives and civil society would no longer be possible. We would No longer pay raw material bills and could no longer import anything. No aluminum for the auto industry, no gas, no oil, no coal."

However, the Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer is convinced that the SWIFT exclusion of Russia is coming.

The CDU foreign policy expert Norbert Röttgen writes on Twitter that the German government is isolating itself with its blocking attitude and that Europe will not forget this for a long time.

SWIFT as "Atomic Bomb"?

In mid-February, CDU leader Friedrich Merz spoke out in favor of leaving SWIFT untouched and spoke of a "nuclear bomb": "Challenging Swift could be the nuclear bomb for the capital markets and also for goods and services relations," said the opposition leader .

Joris Larik of Leiden University in the Netherlands objects to the use of the term "nuclear bomb" in connection with SWIFT. "The nuclear option in the context of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is literally the nuclear option, that is, the use of nuclear weapons," Larik wrote on Twitter.

Hungary's foreign minister: "We are not blocking EU decisions against Russia"

Hungary's Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Saturday dismissed reports that his country in the European Union would oppose Russia's exclusion from the banking information system. "The lie is being spread that Hungary would block some of the sanctions against Russia, for example those related to the Swift system," Szijjarto wrote on his Facebook. This is not the case.

SWIFT is based in Belgium, near Brussels, and is a private company. The US dollar is the dominant currency – ahead of the euro.

SWIFT is managed by a company with cooperative status, backed by the world's major banks. The SWIFT Board consists of 25 independent directors from the countries that contribute financially to the operation of the system.

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