Russia’s largest bank will be removed from the SWIFT international banking system in the latest round of international sanctions announced by the European Union on Monday evening.
Sberbank, which encompasses 37% of Russia’s banking sector, will no longer be allowed to use the international program, cutting it off from global financial networks.
SWIFT not only enables banks around the world to communicate with each other securely and efficiently, it also facilitates billions of dollars in cross-border transactions.
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Ukrainian officials have called for a complete Russian ban on SWIFT since the start of the war, but US and European officials have been reluctant to cripple the Russian economy by this method.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called the move a “good” decision in a late speech on Monday before announcing other areas where Russia will be sanctioned.
Moscow will also see a blockade on almost 90% of its oil exports to European countries by the end of the year.
“It’s an important step forward,” von der Leyen said. “We will come back to the question of the remaining 10% soon.”
Three Russian media outlets have also been targeted for “widely” spreading disinformation about Russia’s war in Ukraine.
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The latest round of sanctions will be the sixth package the EU is hitting Moscow with as it tries to cripple Russian President Vladimir Putin’s murderous campaign.
The EU chief further pledged to provide financial aid to Ukraine, which needs around 5 billion euros per month to provide salaries, pensions and “basic services”.
The G7 has agreed to provide $9.5 billion so far, of which $7.5 is provided by the United States as well as another $1 billion in German grants.
“But we believe that, of course, the European Union must also do its fair share,” von der Leyen said in a statement released Tuesday morning. “Therefore, we are working on a mechanism to have an extraordinary macro-financial assistance package of €9 billion available.”
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The EU will also seek to establish a platform to help rebuild Ukraine by combining international investments from initiatives such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the G20, the International Monetary Fund, the Bank world and various international efforts.
“It is important that we are really united to give Ukraine a fair chance to rise from the ashes and to be able to really make a leap forward in terms of reconstruction in terms of investment, but also in terms of improving state of Ukraine,” von der Leyen said.