Russia’s financial system would not collapse if it was disconnected from the SWIFT global interbank payments system, the head of the country’s second-largest lender VTB Bank (VTB) said on Sunday.
Chief executive Andrey Kostin told state television channel Rossiya 1 the banking system “will survive”, although he doubted the situation would “come to that”.
The media comments follows speculation the White House would push to kick the Kremlin out of the SWIFT payments system if the Russia invaded Ukraine.
Kostin added: “It would be a very serious measure, ‘unfriendly’ doesn’t do it justice.”
Biden threatened “economic consequences like no one has ever seen” if Russian troops amassed north of Luhansk breached Ukraine’s border.
Russia has so far rejected claims it is set to invade Ukraine, and has pushed for more talks with the US to gain concessions over Nato plans in the region.
The country has set up its own banking messaging system, known as SPFS as an alternative to SWIFT, which it can use to trade with China and other economies such as India and Iran.
Meanwhile, Europe relies on Russia for 35 per cent of its gas, making any attempt to disconnect the country from financial infrastructure highly unpopular especially as the winter energy crisis heightens.
Earlier this month, German Gref, chief executive of top Russian lender Sberbank dismissed reports US sanctions could target Moscow’s ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies as nonsense.