Russia is to be banned from using Irish airspace and a number of its banks will no longer be able to use the international payment system, SWIFT.
In an early morning tweet, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney announced that:
“Ireland will move to shut off Irish Airspace to all Russian Aircraft.
“We encourage other EU partners to do the same.
“We also support new wide-ranging sanctions to be agreed today at the EU Foreign Affairs Council and a new assistance package for Ukraine.”
There is no direct flight from Ireland to Russia. However, the move means that Russian aircraft will have to detour around Ireland as they make their way to other destinations.
In doing so Ireland joins a number of other European countries; Britain, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia have all done so already. Germany is expected to follow suit in due course.
“There is no place for planes of the aggressor state in democratic skies,” Estonia’s Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said.
The Putin regime’s unprecedented military invasion of Ukraine calls for strong reaction of the Western world. Tonight we took the unanimous decision to close Latvian airspace for Russian airplanes. The decision is coordinated with Estonia and Lithuania, in force at 24:00.
— Krišjānis Kariņš (@krisjaniskarins) February 26, 2022
More seriously for the Russian economy, agreement has been reached among western leaders that will stop Russian banks from using SWIFT or the ‘Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication’.
"We will hold Russia to account and collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for Putin," the leaders of the European Commission, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and the United States said in a joint statement.
"Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further measures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine."
Based in Belgium, every year trillions of dollars change hands via SWIFT and it is a key tool for international commerce. After Iran was banned from using it in 2012, it lost 30% of its international trade and revenue from its oil exports halved.
Restricting the access of Russian banks is forecast to have a similar impact on the country’s lucrative gas industry and explains why a number of European countries that rely on Russia to keep the lights on - such as Germany - were previously reluctant to endorse the move.
A ban was considered in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea; at the time the country’s then Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said such a move would be tantamount to a “declaration of war” and former Russian finance minister Alexei Kudrin predicted it could cause the nation’s GDP to plunge by 5%.
Main image: A protestor urges world leaders to ban Russia from SWIFT.