Bank sanctions are a sharper sword than cutting Russia off SWIFT, German minister says

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German Foreign Minister Baerbock gives statement on Ukraine

BERLIN -The package of banking sanctions that the European Union is imposing will hit Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government harder than excluding Russia from the SWIFT payments system, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

Speaking from Brussels, she said Russia’s offer of talks with Ukraine to be held in Minsk had not even been discussed at the meeting of European Union foreign ministers she was attending, since it was a “poisoned offer”.

She told ARD public television that excluding Russia from SWIFT would make it impossible to support civil rights groups in Russia from abroad, or for Russian students abroad to send money to help their grandmothers, she told ARD public television.

“The sword that looks hardest isn’t always the cleverest one,” she said. “It’s not just oligarchs who do financial transactions… The sharper sword at the moment is listing banks. Government bonds can’t be sold abroad any more.”

Sanctions would be effective in the medium or long term against a leader who was “ruining his country, not just economically, but also for young people who want a future together in Europe”, she said, but admitted they would not immediately stop Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

“He (Putin) doesn’t want to stop at any price, whether it costs him international isolation, or his country’s economic future,” she said. “If he violates our values then he can’t stay part of the international community.”

(Reporting by Thomas EscrittEditing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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