But here’s the rub: Most of Russia’s reserves are in institutions outside of the country. As my Bloomberg News colleagues have charted, 78% of that $630 billion is held in China, France, Japan, Germany, the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere. And the West just told Russia that it plans to block its central bank’s access to those funds. Think about that. The West is attempting to disarm Russia by crippling its financial autonomy. It’s a move Putin may not have anticipated and should give him pause.
Bloomberg News estimates that in a worst-case scenario, Russia will retain access to only $230 billion of its $630 billion hoard. Does that give Putin enough firepower to continue waging financial warfare while he vandalizes and terrorizes Ukraine? Yes, it does, particularly as Russia continues to haul in revenue from oil and gas sales. But, at a minimum, it drastically shortens how long Putin can continue marauding without economic and political consequences at home.
The West, to use the collective term, is using the most powerful non-military weapon at its disposal. Depriving Russia of the financial architecture it relies on to conduct daily operations is a major step forward. I was wondering in Friday’s big picture video what it was going to take to get Europe to rally around the idea of cutting Russia out of SWIFT. It turns out it was just a matter of time.Click HERE to subscribe to Fuller Treacy Money Back to top