White House relents on booting Russian banks from SWIFT, looks to seize Russian yachts, mansions

The United States and its allies have stepped up their efforts to cripple Russia’s economy in response to the invasion of Ukraine and will block certain Russian banks from accessing the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, and international banking system.

The joint statement from the White House marks a significant change of course for the Biden administration and the EU, which just days ago gave the impression that such a move was unlikely.

“It’s always an option, but right now, that’s not the position that the rest of Europe wishes to take,” President Joe Biden told reporters Thursday, adding that the impact of the sanctions already imposed on Russian banks had a greater impact than kicking Russia out of SWIFT would have.

Apparently, that has all changed.

“We, the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States condemn Putin’s war of choice and attacks on the sovereign nation and people of Ukraine,” the statement reads. “We stand with the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people in their heroic efforts to resist Russia’s invasion. … We will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin.”

The US and its allies will impose “severe measures on key Russian institutions and banks, and on the architects of this war, including Russian President Vladimir Putin” in their quest to “further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies.”

Select Russian banks will no longer have access to the SWIFT messaging system.

“This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the White House states.

“Second, we commit to imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions,” it continues.

Furthermore, actions will be taken against those individuals and entities who are deemed to be aiding the war efforts in Ukraine and contributing to the “harmful activities” of the Russian government, with a specific goal of limiting “the sale of citizenship — so called golden passports — that let wealthy Russians connected tot he Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”

In the coming weeks, the statement reveals, a “transatlantic taskforce”  will be launched to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies in the nations’ jurisdictions.

“As a part of this effort we are committed to employing sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families, and their enablers to identify and freeze the assets they hold in our jurisdictions,” the White House states. “We will also engage other governments and work to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.”

In other words, as one senior administration official told Fox News, “We’ll go after their yachts, their luxury apartments, their money and their ability to send their kids to fancy colleges in the West.”

And finally, in what is perhaps the most chilling part of this joint press release, the White House has vowed to “step up [our] coordination against disinformation and other forms of hybrid warfare.”

There was no word on who will determine what constitutes “misinformation” or what actions will be taken against those deemed to be spreading it.

“We stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark hour,” the statement concludes. “Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further neasures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine.”

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