Videos circulating online showed hundreds of Russians queuing at ATMs in a panic, following an agreement to ban Russia from the global payment system SWIFT in a harsh Western response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Civilians waited in long, tangled lines in an apparent race to stock up on cash before potentially losing access to the international banking infrastructure. One video showed ATM queues snaking through the entire building as Russian crowds queued to withdraw money in an alleged bank run.
The video seemed to indicate an internal panic sweeping across Russia after a spate of economic sanctions against the country, the most aggressive of which yet was the West’s move to bar Russia from international payments. NDTV cannot verify the authenticity of the video.
On Saturday, as the Russian military stepped up its attack on Ukrainian cities, Western allies tried to cripple the country’s banking sector by cutting off select banks from SWIFT – an international money transfer system – threatening Russia’s ability to trade with most , has been seriously hampered the world.
More than 11,000 financial institutions in over 200 countries use SWIFT and thus form the backbone of the international financial transfer system. According to the national association Rosswift, Russia is the second largest country in terms of the number of users after the USA, and around 300 Russian financial institutions belong to the system.
Russia launched a full-scale invasion of its pro-Western neighbor Ukraine on Thursday, which has seen towns gunned down and residents forced to flee for their lives. The UN estimates that the invasion has already generated around 370,000 Ukrainian refugees in just four days.
As Russian forces pound Ukrainian cities with artillery and cruise missiles in a relentless attack, Ukraine’s Health Minister Viktor Lyashko said yesterday that 198 civilians, including three children, have been killed in the conflict and 1,115 people have been injured so far.