Japan to join US, European allies in blocking key Russian banks from SWIFT

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Japan has decided to join the United States and European allies in removing selected Russian banks from the SWIFT international financial messaging system, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Sunday.

Japan will also freeze assets of President Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials, while sending $100 million in emergency humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Kishida told reporters.

UNITED STATES, CANADA, EUROPEAN ALLIES MOVE TO BLOCK ‘SELECTED’ RUSSIAN BANKS FROM SWIFT

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a unilateral attempt to change the status quo and the act shakes the foundation of the international order. It’s an outright violation to international law and we strongly denounce the act,” Kishida said. “Japan stands by the Ukrainian people who are fighting hard to defend their sovereignty and territory, their homeland and families.”

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, the day Japan announced additional sanctions against Russia in response to its attacks on Ukraine. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, the day Japan announced additional sanctions against Russia in response to its attacks on Ukraine. (Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool Photo via AP)

SWIFT provides messaging services to banks in over 200 countries, and is controlled by the central banks of the 11 nations of the G-10, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the United States, Switzerland and Sweden.

Japan’s move comes as Ukraine fights against invading Russian forces for the fourth day, and a day after the U.S., Canada, and other European allies announced additional sanctions on Russia, including the removal of key Russian banks from SWIFT.

Restrictions on Russia’s central bank, which has more than $600 billion in reserves, are meant to block Russia’s ability to support the ruble. Analysts predicted intensifying runs on banks in Russia and falling government reserves as Russians scrambled to sell their currency for safer assets. 

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Ordinary Russians fearing that tightening sanctions will cripple the Russian economy have been flocking to banks and ATMS to withdraw cash since Thursday. Russia’s Central Bank says citizens withdrew 111 billion rubles (about $1.3 billion) in cash on Thursday alone.

The ruble and Russia’s stock market both declined sharply immediately after Russia launched a full-scale military invasion in Ukraine. The ruble recovered slightly but is still down more than 6% from before Putin’s announcement, trading at nearly 84 rubles to the dollar.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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