EU official ‘strongly’ condemns Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.

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President Joe Biden attends a virtual meeting in Washington, DC on February 22nd. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden is seriously considering removing Russia from SWIFT, the high-security network connecting thousands of financial institutions around the world, but has yet to make a final decision, according to several people familiar with his mindset.

The decision to launch the action has always been dependent on the approval of the European Union, which has been divided in a contentious debate over the action for weeks and ultimately chose not to proceed this week.

But US officials and their EU counterparts have continued to weigh options, including sanctions, to remove individual banks and companies from the network rather than the entire Russian economy, officials say.

The move would be seen as a nuclear option when it comes to responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden and his associates have stressed how complicated it would be to block Russia from SWIFT and pointed out that the US cannot act unilaterally. “That’s not the position the rest of Europe wants to take,” Biden told reporters Thursday.

But since Biden’s press conference announced new sanctions against Russia over its unprovoked attack, the government appears to be converging on that position as other European allies have now lent their support.

The government has discussed the matter with the Federal Reserve, which an official said would be involved in any decision. And US officials have held talks with the European Union about a possible move.

A government official said additional sanctions would likely be imposed should Kiev, the besieged Ukrainian capital, fall. But it was not clear if that would include SWIFT or if it would be possible to remove Russia from SWIFT beforehand.

A White House official told CNN that “as the President and administration officials have made clear, our focus is on coordinating with allies and partners to impose further costs on Putin’s war of choice,” but denied another Opinion off.

On Saturday, Italy signaled it would support moves to ban Russia from SWIFT after Prime Minister Mario Draghi told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: “Italy fully supports the European Union’s line on sanctions against Russia, including those in Regarding SWIFT, and will continue to do so.”

Draghi’s comments are particularly notable given the exposure of the Italian economy to the energy sector, but the main opposition to the measures came from Germany, officials said.

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