Corporate Impact Of The West’s Suspension Of SWIFT Upon Russia

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Preparing for, and alternatives in getting your staff and business operational finance into Russia

The United States and EU has announced a package of sanctions upon Russia, including the disconnection of SWIFT services to the country. SWIFT is an international global payments system that handles international banking transactions and is used by more than 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries.
Russia itself processes about US$46 billion of forex transactions and wire transfers a day through the network.

Effect On Russia Trade

Russian banks will no longer be able to make payments for trade and financial activities, effectively preventing the country from exporting commodities such as oil, coal, and natural gas. It would also prevent Russia from importing key technologies such as semiconductors and machinery for its own industries. However, any disconnection is unlikely to fully implemented meaning there may still be avenues for legitimate, non-sanctioned business and personal transfers.

In terms of Russia’s Central Bank and related financial institutions, the sanctions were announced well in advance. This will have given the Central Bank time to make alternative arrangements, potentially signifying that the sanctions are actually meant to be cosmetic rather than truly disruptive. It is difficult to be sure in advance of their imposition given the misinformation and vested interests on both sides, however it is prudent to act on the side of caution and to make operational judgements accordingly.

When Will This Happen?

Probably within the week, we suggest Wednesday at the earliest. The United States and its allies are still finalizing the list of banks that will be cut off from SWIFT, while banks already under U.S. and European sanctions will be the first considered for SWIFT suspension. These include Sberbank and VTB, the country’s two largest lenders. However, the extent of sanctions may not be fully implemented.

Are All Russian Banks Affected?

No. About 50% of Russia’s banks are connected to SWIFT. Other, domestic banks use Russia’s own SPFS system.

Will I Be Able To Wire Personal Funds To Russia?
It depends on the extent and design of the sanctions. The US and EU will be unwilling to completely cut off Russian families from receiving overseas funds as this would cause hardship to ordinary Russians who are not the target. There may instead be a transfer limit imposed for sending money to personal accounts, rather than a complete disconnection but this is as yet unknown. Should the United States be looking for a Russian popular uprising for the people to depose the current Government though, this may be a possibility also.

Will My Foreign Credit / Debit Card Work In Russia?

Again, this remains uncertain. Some hotels have already been asking foreign guests to settle their bills in advance prior to the expected disconnection. If in Russia it would be wise to check your payment capability status with any immediate due vendors.

I Have Staff In Russia And Bills To Pay For. How Can I Meet These Expenses?

This remains possible for now however it would be wise to check with your corporate bank first. Foreign investors in Russia with businesses and employees there are advised to discuss with their local staff and be prepared to send an advance. We recommend a minimum of six months overheads, and ideally more at your discretion. This will probably require actioning within 48 hours – or by close of business Wednesday to beat the disconnection, although there are no guarantees.

Can The Situation Be Resolved?

There are two options; either Russia backs down immediately and there are guarantees and reparations paid to Ukraine, or Russia continues its Ukrainian involvement and is able to arrange alternative options. Either is likely to take time. A union between Russia’s SPFS and China’s CIPS system is one solution, however, will take time to implement.

What Are Other Alternatives?

We recommend examining Russia’s Sovcombank, and establishing whether they are on the sanctions list. Sovcombank has arranged a partnership with China’s UnionPay meaning that financing to Russia if they are not sanctioned could be made if staff, friends, or family have accounts with the bank and with UnionPay.

Russia has not regulated the use of cryptocurrencies. We advice caution as there are likely to be many scams out there offering assistance.

Dezan Shira & Associates support legitimate businesses and may be able to provide advice. For additional assistance please contact us at

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About Us

During these uncertain times, we must stress that our firm does not approve of the Ukraine conflict. We do not entertain business with sanctioned Russian companies or individuals. However, we are well aware of the new emerging supply chains, can advise on strategic analysis and new logistics corridors, and may assist in non-sanctioned areas. We can help, for example, Russian companies develop operations throughout Asia, including banking advisory services, and trade compliance issues, and have done since 1992.

We also provide financial and sanctions compliance services to foreign companies wishing to access Russia. Additionally, we offer market research and advisory services to foreign exporters interested in accessing Russia as the economy looks to replace Western-sourced products. For assistance, please email or visit