Cutting Russia out of SWIFT banking system would mean ‘war’ – head of VTB

Thursday, December 4, 2014
By Paul Martin
December 04, 2014

Excluding Russia from the global SWIFT banking transactions system is another form of sanctions and would mean “war,” said Andrey Kostin, head of VTB Russia’s second largest bank, adding that should it happen Russia has a “Plan B.”

“In my personal opinion, if such a sanction is introduced it would mean war,” Kostin said in an interview with Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper. If Russian banks no longer have access to SWIFT, the American ambassador would leave Moscow the same day, he said.

Kostin added that the banking system is highly dependent on the dollar and euro, and is the most vulnerable part of the Russian economy. However, he said Russia has an alternative should the SWIFT system be no longer available to Russia. Last month the Bank of Russia said it’s going to launch an alternative for financial transactions in May 2015.

“There is much talk about the possibility of disconnection from SWIFT,” said VTB’s first deputy president Yuri Soloviev to Kommersant. He explained that 90 percent of all banking transactions are domestic that can be processed through alternatives to SWIFT.

“Problems may occur with the remaining payments passing through foreign contractor banks, but we are actively working on possible solutions,” he added, saying VTB hopes disconnection from SWIFT won’t happen.

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