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    Thursday, March 3, 2022

    EU Cuts Seven Russian Banks from SWIFT, Bans RT, Sputnik

    The European Union has cut seven Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and officially banned Kremlin-controlled media outlets RT and Sputnik from broadcasting in the bloc in response to Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

    The measures, adopted on March 2, were the latest tightening of Western-coordinated sanctions on Russia for the invasion, now in its seventh day.

    The banks named on the list include Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazank, Rossia Bank, Sovcombank, VEB, and VTB. Notably, the list does not include Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank, or Gazprombank, in order to allow EU countries to pay for Russian gas and oil deliveries.

    "At the speed of light, the European Union has adopted three waves of heavy sanctions against Russia's financial system, its high-tech industries, and its corrupt elite," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement.

    "This is the largest sanctions package in our union's history. Today's decision to disconnect key Russian banks from the SWIFT network will send yet another very clear signal to Putin and the Kremlin," she added.

    The EU said the decision, agreed with the United States and the United Kingdom, will keep the banks from being able to quickly and efficiently conduct financial transactions.

    "Today's decision builds on the wide-ranging and unprecedented packages of measures the EU has been taking in response to Russia's acts of aggression on Ukraine's territorial integrity. These sanctions will have massive and severe consequences for Russia," the EU said.

    In a separate action, the EU also banned broadcasts by RT, formerly known as Russia Today, and Sputnik as "an important step against Putin's manipulation operation and turning off the tap for Russian state-controlled media in the EU," foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

    The measure restricts Sputnik and RT channels targeted at Britain, Germany, and France, and its channels in English and Spanish in the European media market regardless of their distribution channel.

    On March 1 Google Europe said it was blocking YouTube channels associated with RT and Sputnik.

    SWIFT, or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is a secure system that helps enable cross-border payments, allowing international trade flow more smoothly.

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