West no longer mulling cutting off Russia from Swift -Handelsblatt

BERLIN (Reuters) - Western governments are no longer considering cutting Russian banks off from the Swift global payments system, Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper reported, citing German government sources.

Handelsblatt reported that, according to its government sources, economic sanctions targeting major Russian banks were being considered as an alternative.

The Russian rouble gained on the report.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council rejected the Handelsblatt story.

“No option is off the table. We continue consulting very closely with European counterparts on severe consequences for Russia if it further invades Ukraine,” the spokesperson said.

A German government source close to the matter told Reuters: “We can’t confirm. It is not decided yet.”

Excluding Russia from Swift, which would effectively cut the country off from the global economy, has long been considered the ultimate sanction that Western countries could take against Russia to deter it from taking further military action against its neighbour Ukraine.

The Swift system is a global network used by almost all financial institutions worldwide to wire sums of money to each other, and a cornerstone of the international payments system.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Andreas Rinke, Additional reporting by Andrea Shalal in Washington, Writing by Zuzanna Szymanska, Editing by Miranda Murray and Mark Heinrich