EU member states called former bloc president Donald Tusk a “shame” after Russian oligarchs were spared sanctions on Gucci loafers.
- EU member states reject Boris Johnson’s call to exclude Russia from Swift
- Former bloc president Donald Tusk called its members a “disgrace”.
- It beat out Germany, Italy, Hungary and other countries after they vetoed the move.
- The Swift secure messaging network is the backbone of international trade.
Yesterday, the bloc’s former president branded EU member states a “shame” after they rejected Boris Johnson’s call to exclude Russia from the world’s largest financial payment system.
Donald Tusk has lashed out at Germany, Italy, Hungary and other countries after they vetoed attempts to exclude Russia from the Swift network, which is the backbone of international trade.
Tusk tweeted: “Everything is real in this war: Putin’s madness and brutality, Ukrainian casualties, bombs falling on Kyiv.
“Only your sanctions are imaginary. Those EU governments that blocked tough decisions (eg Germany, Hungary, Italy) have disgraced themselves.”
While EU leaders have excluded the Swift ban from the “hard” package of sanctions – despite a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky – Italy has received an exemption for its luxury goods industry.
Donald Tusk (pictured) lashed out at Germany, Italy, Hungary and other countries after they vetoed moves to exclude Russia from the Swift network, which is the backbone of international trade.
Senior sources said Gucci loafers and designer bags were not included in the export ban measures agreed late on Thursday, which focused mainly on the high-tech, aviation and energy sectors.
One EU diplomat said Italy’s argument was that a ban on sales to Russian oligarchs “would be largely symbolic.”
But senior Italian government sources reacted furiously, with one saying that the country’s prime minister, Mario Draghi, “didn’t seek to cut off Italian luxury goods – that’s categorically wrong.”
Mr. Draghi also sparked a row with Mr. Zelensky after he told Italian lawmakers that the Ukrainian president missed a scheduled phone call yesterday because he was “hiding somewhere.”
Mr. Zelenskiy tweeted details of the heavy fighting in his country, including the dead, before adding sarcastically: “Next time I’ll try to shift the war timetable to talk to Mario Draghi at a specific time.” Meanwhile, Ukraine continues to fight for its people.”
Zelensky urged European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to support Swift’s ban on Russia, saying: “We haven’t exhausted all the possibilities for sanctions yet.” The pressure on Russia must increase.”
Latvian Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks condemned the countries that blocked the move, saying: “Some people in Europe are afraid of losing money, while other people in Kyiv have to die.”
Boris Johnson (pictured) urged allies to support the Swift ban, saying only the toughest economic sanctions would have any impact on Vladimir Putin.
Mr Johnson urged allies to support the Swift ban, saying only the toughest economic sanctions would have any impact on Vladimir Putin.
The Prime Minister raised the issue at the G7 summit on Thursday and yesterday at the NATO Leaders’ Crisis Summit.
He also raised the issue in private conversations with fellow leaders, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, warning him: “Inaction or insufficient response from the West will have unthinkable consequences.”
A government source said Mr. Johnson “will continue to press very strongly on this.”
And Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said yesterday that the UK will be “working all day” to “turn off the Swift system for Russia.”
EU leaders have said little publicly about their opposition to Russia’s expulsion from Swift. But diplomatic sources said several countries were concerned about interruptions in gas supplies from Russia.
Diplomatic sources said that US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit on Thursday did not agree on this issue.
He cited EU fears as the reason for dropping the ban.
Q&A: WHAT CAN A SWIFT CAN MEAN FOR RUSSIA?
What is Swift?
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (Swift) is a secure messaging system used by banks to make fast cross-border payments.
The Belgian-based system processes about 42 million messages a day and is said to account for about half of all major international money transfers.
Will the ban hurt Russia?
Supporters of Russia’s ban on the Swift payment network, including Boris Johnson and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, argue that it would hurt Moscow’s trading ability by depriving it of vital oil and gas export revenues.
An analysis of Swift’s ban on Iran in 2012 shows that Tehran lost half of its oil export revenue and 30 percent of its foreign trade.
Who blocks the ban?
This move is opposed by several leading EU countries, including Germany and Italy. They did not give a public reason, but are believed to be concerned that this could lead to a halt in Russian gas supplies, on which they depend.
Germany gets 49 percent of its gas from Russia, and Italy 46 percent. France, which said yesterday that a Swift ban should be a “last resort”, gets 24%.
Can Russia cope?
Russia tried to create its own payment system when it was threatened with a Swift ban due to its annexation of Crimea in 2014, but it has struggled to achieve international recognition.
Some countries, including the US, are concerned that Moscow and Beijing could try to create a rival payment system if Russia is excluded, which they fear could weaken Western influence in the long run.
It will happen?
EU leaders effectively vetoed Russia’s ban on Swift. But Mr. Johnson, along with like-minded people in countries like Canada and Lithuania, are pushing for the issue to be reopened.
US President Joe Biden has signaled that he is ready to consider it again if the EU abandons the opposition.
Ukrainian leaders have warned that without him, Vladimir Putin will brush off the impact of other sanctions.