Russia does not expect to be cut off from SWIFT system, VTB CEO says

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s financial system would be able to cope even if it was disconnected from the SWIFT global interbank payments system, the head of the country’s second-largest lender VTB Bank said on Sunday, but added he did not think such a move was likely.

Washington and other Western capitals have warned Moscow of strong economic repercussions if Russia invades Ukraine and cutting Russia off from SWIFT, crucial for global money flows, is one idea that has been floated. Russia has rejected suggestions it is planning to invade.

“Of course we will survive, certainly, but I don’t think it will come to that,” VTB CEO Andrey Kostin told state television channel Rossiya 1.

“It would be a very serious measure, ‘unfriendly’ doesn’t do it justice,” he said.

Russia has set up its own banking messaging system, known as SPFS as an alternative to SWIFT in a move officials say should partially mitigate the blow should Russia be disconnected from SWIFT.

German Gref, chief executive of top Russian lender Sberbank, this month dismissed as nonsense reports that new U.S. sanctions could target Moscow’s ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies.