The European Union said Wednesday its members agreed to exclude seven Russian banks from a key international payment network known as SWIFT, as part of financial sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Following the EU decision, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the service provider headquartered in Belgium, is expected to formally determine the cutoff certain to disrupt Russian trade and money transfer.
The banks subjected to the restriction are Russia's second-largest bank VTB Bank, Bank Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Bank Rossiya, Sovcombank and Vnesheconombank.
The EU said the banks, to be excluded from the network on March 12, were chosen as they are already subject to sanctions by the bloc and other G-7 countries.
"Today's decision builds on the wide-ranging and unprecedented packages of measures the EU has been taking in response to Russia's acts of aggression on Ukraine's territorial integrity," the EU said in a statement.
The United States and the EU said on Feb. 26 that a select number of Russian banks will be removed from SWIFT, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida saying the next day that Japan will also join the punitive effort.
SWIFT connects more than 11,000 banks, other financial institutions and corporations in more than 200 countries and territories, according to its website.
The United States, European countries and others have slapped a slew of sanctions on Russia, such as freezing assets of President Vladimir Putin and other officials and restricting transactions with the Russian central bank.
Finance ministers and central bank governors of the Group of Seven industrialized nations agreed Tuesday to put further pressure on Russia, according to Japanese Finance Minister Shunichi Suzuki.
"We agreed to continue taking further actions in a rapid manner," Suzuki said after the meeting.