Calls to exclude Russia from SWIFT are not new. In August 2014, the UK appealed to European leaders to consider such an option. Alexei Kudrin, Russia’s former finance minister, then forecast that such a move could cause Russia’s GDP to shrink by 5 percent. Ultimately, the pressure campaign was dropped. Cutting Russia off from SWIFT was considered to be a major escalation, or, as then prime minister Dmitry Medvedev put it, tantamount to “a declaration of war.”

The question then remains: how well is Russia prepared to cope with a complete disconnection from Western payment systems? In truth, Russia and China have been preparing for this eventuality for years. However, it should be noted that US and European firms and institutions will lose massively if Washington tries to pull this final card, as US, UK and EU (namely German) banks are the most frequent users of the SWIFT system in their transactions with Russian banks.

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Many are rightfully concerned that a weak Biden White House could become more dangerous now. How far will they go in trying shore-up collapsing poll numbers at home?