Swift preparing to implement measures targeting Russian banks
The Swift international banking payment system has said it is preparing to implement western nations’ new measures targeting certain Russian banks in coming days after western allies agreed to block Russia’s access to the service.
In a statement, it said:
We are engaging with European authorities to understand the details of the entities that will be subject to the new measures and we are preparing to comply upon legal instruction.”
The move comes after the US, Canada and key European countries, including Germany, agreed to remove “selected Russian banks” from the Swift payment system.
The decision is expected to have a significant impact in Russia, and further afield. Sergei Aleksashenko, a former deputy chairman of Russia’s central banks, said “there is going to be a catastrophe” on the Russian currency market on Monday. “I think they will stop trading and then the exchange rate will be fixed at an artificial level just like in Soviet times,” he added.
Michael Farr, chief executive of financial consulting firm Farr, Miller & Washington, said of the impact on global markets: “This could be a surprise that is not taken very well if it means a slowdown in international trade.”
NBC News foreign correspondent, Raf Sanchez, who is currently in Moscow said his hotel asked him to “settle the bill early” because “they aren’t sure if credit cards are going to work once SWIFT sanctions kick in.”
Snake Island defenders may still be alive, Ukraine’s State Border Guard says
The Ukrainian soldiers who defended an island in the Black Sea from an air and sea bombardment – reportedly telling an officer on board a Russian navy warship to “go f*** yourself” when asked to surrender, are believed to still be alive according to Ukrainian officials.
There were 13 border guards stationed on Snake Island, a roughly 16-hectare (40-acre) rocky island owned by Ukraine that sits about 186 miles (300km) west of Crimea, when Russian troops bombed the island on Thursday.
All 13 soldiers were believed to have died after refusing to surrender, Ukrainian officials announced.
However, in a recent statement, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said:
We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive.
After receiving information about their possible location, the DPSU together with the Armed Forces of Ukraine are conducting work on identifying our soldiers.”
If you missed our earlier report, you can read it below.
Google bars Russian state-funded media from receiving money for ads
Google has said it is pausing monetisation of Russian state-funded media and barring the outlets from running ads across its services, according to a statement seen by Reuters.
Russia’s state-owned media outlet RT and other channels will be barred from receiving money for ads on their websites, apps and YouTube videos, similar to a move by Facebook after the invasion of Ukraine.
Citing “extraordinary circumstances,” Google’s YouTube unit said it was “pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetise on YouTube.”
These included several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions, such as those by the European Union.
Ad placement is largely controlled by YouTube.
Google added later that it was also barring Russian state-funded media outlets from using its ad technology to generate revenue on their own websites and apps.
In addition, the Russian media will not be able to buy ads through Google Tools or place ads on Google services such as search and Gmail, spokesman Michael Aciman said.
“We’re actively monitoring new developments and will take further steps if necessary,” Aciman said.
On Wednesday, the European Union unveiled sanctions on individuals such as Margarita Simonyan, whom it called RT’s editor-in-chief and “a central figure” of Russian propaganda.
Videos from affected media will also come up less often in recommendations, YouTube spokesperson Farshad Shadloo said. He added that RT and several other channels would no longer be accessible in Ukraine after a Ukrainian government request.
Gas pipeline and oil terminal on fire after overnight attacks
A blaze at an oil terminal in the Ukrainian town of Vasylkiv, about 30km, or 18 miles, southwest of the capital, Kyiv, overnight.
The town’s mayor, Natalia Balasinovich, said Russian missiles hit the oil storage area southwest of the air base’s main runway in a video posted online. The National News Agency of Ukraine later confirmed the reports.
Photographs and video posted online showed large flames rising under the night sky.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said on Telegram.
The missile attack was carried out on the Vasilkovskaya oil depot of the KLO company. Rescuers have already left for the scene of the tragedy. Most likely, there were no casualties. It will burn for a long time. The environmental damage will be colossal.”
The mayor of Vasylkiv, Natalia Balasinovich, also confirmed that rockets hit the oil depot, and a strong fire started.
The blaze prompted authorities to urge residents to close their windows to avoid breathing in smoke and harmful substances.
A natural gas pipeline was also blown up in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, after a Russian attack, the Ukrainian state service of special communications said.
A mushroom-shaped explosion was shown in a video it posted on the Telegram messaging app.
It was not immediately clear how important the pipeline was and whether the blast could disrupt gas shipments outside the city or the country.
As dawn breaks in Kyiv and multiples towns and cities across Ukraine wake to find scenes of destruction, here is where the situation currently stands:
- Western allies have agreed to block Russia’s access to the Swift international banking payment system. The US, Canada and key European countries, including Germany, have agreed to remove “selected Russian banks” from the Swift payment system, the countries announced on Saturday.
- There are reports that a gas pipeline is on fire in Kharkiv after a Russian attack, while an oil terminal in Vasylkiv, south-west of the capital, Kyiv, has also been targeted. The government has warned that smoke from the explosion in Kharkiv could cause an “environmental catastrophe” and advised people to cover their windows.
- The 13 Ukrainian soldiers who were reportedly killed while defending an island in the Black Sea from an air and sea bombardment – reportedly telling a Russian navy warship to “go fuck yourself” when asked to surrender – may still be alive, according to Ukrainian officials.
- Britain is preparing a “hit list” of Russian oligarchs to be targeted by sanctions in the coming months, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, has said.
- Truss said there would be “nowhere left to hide” for the super-rich allies of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. She told the Sunday Times that new names would be added to the list every few weeks as ministers seek to ratchet up the pressure on Putin.
- Liquor stores and bars in the US and Canada are targeting Russia’s national drink in a show of unity with the people of Ukraine. Shelves in both countries are being stripped of Russian vodka, with the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, announcing on Saturday the removal of “Russian-made and Russian-branded spirits from our liquor and wine outlets until further notice”.
- Japanese billionaire Hiroshi ‘Mickey’ Mikitani has said he will donate $8.7m to the government of Ukraine, calling Russia’s invasion “a challenge to democracy”. The founder of e-commerce giant Rakuten said in a letter addressed to Volodymyr Zelenskiy that the donation of 1bn yen ($8.7m) will go toward “humanitarian activities to help people in Ukraine who are victims of the violence”, Agence France-Presse reported.
- A Ukrainian company in charge of building and maintaining roads said it was removing all road signs that could be used by invading Russian forces to find their way around the country. The company, Ukravtodor, said in a Facebook post: “The enemy has poor communications, they cannot navigate the terrain. Let us help them get straight to hell.”