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WARSAW, March 6. /TASS/. A possible decision to disconnect Russia from international financial message system SWIFT can be compared to an "atomic weapon," Polish Foreign Minister Grzegorz Schetyna said on Friday.
"If we speak about sanctions, this is an atomic weapon, an extreme measure. There is still a long list of sanctions that can be used before that. But it should be borne in mind that this weapon acts in both ways and can strike against all of us," the Polish foreign minister said at a joint press conference with UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond in Warsaw.
The Polish foreign minister’s statement came in reply to a question at the end of the press conference, when journalists asked about how much time Schetyna and Hammond had paid in their discussion to the issue of Russia’s exclusion from the SWIFT international banking system and about the tone of their discussion.
The head of the UK diplomacy was the first to answer the question but made no vivid comparisons. Hammond said Russia’s possible disconnection from the SWIFT bank messaging system was an extreme step that would affect the Russian economy. He added, however, this step would have its impact on both sides.
None of the journalists present at the press conference asked the Polish foreign minister and his UK counterpart to specify the statement about the "atomic weapon."
In late August 2014, media reports said the UK had proposed banning Russia from the SWIFT network as part of an upcoming new round of sanctions against Moscow over its stance on developments in neighboring Ukraine. However, this proposal was not supported by the EU countries at the time.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) transmits 1.8 billion communications a year, remitting payment orders worth $6 trillion a day. The system comprises over 10,000 financial organizations from 210 countries.
Under the SWIFT charter, groups of members and users are set up in each country covered by the system. In Russia, these groups are united in the RosSWIFT association.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on late January Russia would have no limits in its response to the country’s possible disconnection from the SWIFT system.
"We’ll watch developments and if such decisions are made, I want to note that our economic reaction and generally any other reaction will be without limits," he said.