Andrey Kostin, chief of the VTB Bank, says that if Russian banks access to the international payment system will be prohibited as sanctions over Ukraine war, "the U.S ambassador to Moscow should leave the same day."
Andrey Kostin, chief of the VTB Bank, the second largest bank in Russia, warns the West today against excluding the Russian banks from the international payment system Swift.
Although he says that the Russians have a plan B, “In my personal view, it would mean war, when [these types] of sanctions would be introduced,” Kostin said in an interview with the German Newspaper Handelsblatt, published on Thursday.
The “plan B” the top banker was referring to might be a reference to the Russian plan from a few months ago to set up an alternative to SWIFT, with China, meant to lessen the effect of possible further sanctions.
At any rate, such a system will take a long time to be established and the there are no guarantees Russia will be able to get the cooperation of its international trading partners if the US will pressure them against it. The banker said that if Russian banks’ access to Swift will be prohibited, the “U.S. ambassador to Moscow should leave the same day.”
Banking is the most vulnerable part of the Russian economy, because the system is based very much on the dollar and the euro, Kostin admitted. In his first interview with Western media since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, Kostin also admitted that, this year, VTB Bank must keep about $1.3 billion in reserves, because the Ukrainian economy stands on the brink of collapse. “But we want to stay there and continue,” Kostin added.
After the US and EU imposed sanctions on Russian banks there were fears that the next stage would be cutting Russia off from the SWIFT system.
A call to shut down the SWIFT system in Russia first came from British Prime Minister David Cameron. A resolution in the European Parliament also included such a proposal.