British prime minister Boris Johnson has called for an end to Russia’s involvement in SWIFT, the secure messaging service that facilitates payments among 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries, in an act of support towards Ukraine.
The European Union is divided over Ukraine’s appeal for Russia to be banned from the service.
In a video message to Ukrainians earlier on Saturday, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the majority of EU members now supported imposing the new sanction, but called on Germany and Hungary to do the same.
Ukraine appealed for Russia to be removed from SWIFT after President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion on Thursday. The call from Kyiv was backed by Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and the United Kingdom but other European countries resisted.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has come under fire for not supporting the move, which the government said would require careful preparation.
Removing Russia from SWIFT would make it much harder for financial institutions to send money in or out of the country, delivering a sudden shock to Russian companies and their foreign customers — especially buyers of oil and gas exports denominated in US dollars.
However, senior Russian lawmakers have responded by saying that shipments of oil, gas and metals to Europe would stop if that happened.