Russia Sees Risk of Disconnection from SWIFT as Hypothetical for Now: Foreign Ministry

Russia is already in the process of minimizing any potential damage in the case of being disconnected from international financial instruments, but still regards the risk it may be denied access to the system of interbank payments SWIFT as hypothetical, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told the television broadcaster RT, TASS reports.

“The scenario of Russia’s disconnection from SWIFT is still regarded as hypothetical. Nevertheless, joint inter-departmental measures are being taken to minimize the risks and economic damage to our country that restricted access to customary international financial instruments and payment mechanisms might entail. As an example of alternative instruments one can mention the Bank of Russia’s System of Transmitting Financial Messages. At the moment various options are being considered of interfacing it with foreign counterparts, such as Europe’s SEPA, Iran’s SEPAM, and China’s CUP and CIPS,” Zakharova said.

Cooperation is afoot between Russia’s payment system MIR and foreign analogues: China’s UnionPay, Japan’s JCB and international Maestro, she went on to say. These cards are accepted both inside and outside Russia. However, Zakharova remarked, it is too early to speculate when a comprehensive national set of instruments in the segment of payment transactions might be finalized and promoted to international markets, because, she said, it is a time-and effort-consuming process.

“Alongside this Russia is exploring the opportunities of the latest cybertechnologies and the possibility of tapping their potential to enhance the stability and independence of the national financial system and payment means. There is a clear understanding that digital means of payment may eventually provide the basis for an upgraded international financial system and transborder settlements,” Zakharova concluded.

Earlier, the European Parliament at its session in Brussels on April 29 passed a resolution on Russia containing calls for sanctions against the gas carrier project Nord Stream 2, nuclear power corporation Rosatom and “Russian oligarchs”, as well as for disconnecting Russia from the international payment system SWIFT in case of an “invasion of Ukraine.” The resolution was approved by 569 members of the European Parliament of the 682 in attendance, with 67 nays.