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Ukraine foreign minister urges EU to close SWIFT loopholes

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged European countries not leave loopholes in the coming sanctions package to exclude Russia from the SWIFT payment system and called for a full embargo on oil and gas from Russia.

“I want also to say a few separate words to those few European governments, which are now trying to water down the sanctions packages, including the banning of Russia from SWIFT,” Kuleba told a press conference on Sunday.

“And I will not be diplomatic: some countries are trying to leave loopholes excluding a number of banks, so that they can apply some measures with their left hands and continue to trade with Russia with their right hands. Stop doing this now,” he said.

“Stop trading with the blood of Ukrainian men, women and children. This is not a metaphor,” he added. “History will judge you and your names will forever remain in history books, as names of traitors of humanity who failed to oppose the aggressor in Europe at a crucial time.”

Western leaders agreed Saturday to impose more financial sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, including removing “selected Russian banks” from the SWIFT international payments system. That’s after Germany and a few other countries had been reluctant to touch the SWIFT system that they use to buy energy from Russia.

The point, he said, is that “it is critically important that Russia is disconnected from SWIFT on the fullest possible extent. All possible banks. Don’t play political games and stop earning money soaked in our blood,” Kuleba said. According to one diplomat, however, the approach to sanctioning banks in SWIFT “will be gradual.”

Kuleba also called on EU governments “to impose a full oil and gas embargo on Russia.”

“Oil and gas now also contain Ukrainian blood,” Kuleba said. “Anyone buying it has to be ashamed of doing so.”

He stressed that he welcomes “the first decisive steps by a number of European countries in this regard,” but he urged them “to proceed without delay with the strongest possible measures.”

The issue right now is also “global and severe sanctioning of the Central Bank of Russia,” Kuleba said. “Once again, we demand and we need immediate steps to impose a full financial isolation of Russia from all civilized systems, applying to all Russian banks, including its central bank.” Some actions “were already taken and we’re deeply grateful to our partners for them. But they are not enough.”

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