More EU countries – including France, Italy and Greece – have said they would back a ban on Russia using the Swift global payments network in a bid to pile further pressure on the country after its invasion of Ukraine.
Cyprus and Hungary also said they would support such a measure.
The move, which it is hoped would hit Russian trade by making it harder for companies in the country to do business, is being considered to escalate sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, warned on Thursday that European and US politicians would have “blood on their hands” if they did not support a ban. The following day, the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, said a ban did not get the “necessary unanimity” but that it would remain a possibility for future consideration.
Germany’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said on Friday she did not believe a ban was the best course of action and France’s finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, said one should be used only as a final resort.
But on Saturday, Kuleba said the French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, had supported cutting Russia out of Swift during a phone call with him. Writing on Twitter, he also said that France was ready to supply Ukraine with weapons and military equipment.
The office of the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, also said it would support any EU sanctions. In a statement, his office said Draghi had spoken to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, on Saturday, reiterating that the country would “fully support the European Union line on sanctions against Russia, including on Swift”.
Greece said it would support any EU line on sanctions against Russia. A senior government official told Reuters: “Greece will support the EU’s line on sanctions, including on Swift.”
Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, also called Zelenskiy on Saturday, saying that the country supported the harshest EU sanctions and was ready to provide assistance.
Hungary said it would support all EU sanctions.
Speaking during a visit to the Ukrainian-Hungarian border, the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, said: “Hungary made clear that we support all the sanctions, so we will block nothing, so what the prime ministers of the European Union are able to agree, we accept it and we support it.” He added: “This is the time to be united, it’s a war.”
The Cypriot finance minister, Constantinos Petrides, said Cyprus would also not oppose any EU sanctions.
“In the name of EU unity and solidarity to Ukrainian people, Cyprus has not objected to any EU sanctions including cutting Russia off Swift,” Petrides wrote on Twitter, adding that “everything is on the table”.
It followed speculation that Cyprus, which has significant business links with Russia and Ukraine, was among countries with reservations about cutting Russia from Swift.
The UK defence secretary, Ben Wallace, has been pushing for Russia to be banned from Swift, but on Friday said that it was not within Britain’s control.
Meanwhile, the governor of a central bank within the eurozone said on Saturday that a decision on Swift would be taken within days and a ban was “just a matter of time”.
The unnamed banker told Reuters: “Is it sufficient? No. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Sanctions only make sense if there are costs for both sides and this will be costly.”