Fearing Being Cut Off From SWIFT, Russia Hints About Blockchain Alternative: Report

Headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Moscow

The development of blockchain and digital currencies shows that in the future, global settlements might take place on a new technological platform rather than on the SWIFT payments network, said the deputy head of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Pankin, talking to the RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.

Pankin said future alternatives to SWIFT will be more advanced and not dependent on being a monopoly. The emergence of such alternatives will be “not only a reaction to the current geopolitical situation but a response to the need to modernize the existing payment methods using the top digital innovations,” Pankin said.

The statement comes after the country’s authorities voiced concerns recently that Western countries might cut Russia off from the SWIFT. In late March, the press secretary for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, said the Kremlin “cannot rule out” that threat.

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Fears of Russia getting cut off SWIFT have been voiced over and over in Russia’s ruling circles after the country got sanctioned in 2014 for annexing the Crimea peninsula. Back then, the first round of sanctions prompted the creation of a national payment system that would be working even if SWIFT was no longer available in Russia.

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Those concerns apparently mounted further as the relationship between Russia and the West deteriorated this winter, after Putin’s most vocal critic, Alexey Navalny, was first poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, then imprisoned in Russia soon after he recovered. At the moment, Navalny is in a penal colony. According to him, Navalny had been denied necessary medical help and his health has worsened significantly.

In a recent interview, U.S. President Joe Biden said he believes Putin is a “killer.”

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