Live updates: Russia invades Ukraine

The European Union wants to “hit” the Moscow leadership with its package of further sanctions regardless of whether SWIFT is included, according to a senior EU diplomat. 

Earlier on Thursday, CNN reported that the bloc was undecided as to whether to cut Russia off from SWIFT, a high-security payment network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world.

The diplomat told journalists in a briefing that the combination of Tuesday’s package alongside the fresh package due to come into effect from Friday, will be “really concentrated to hit the leadership in Moscow and those around Mr. Putin and profiting from this war.”

EU leaders are expected to discuss these sanctions during an emergency summit in Brussels on Thursday evening. 

The diplomat told CNN that they expected “leaders to focus on sharing their thoughts and political positions on the big things and not on discussing in details certain measures.”

“We want the biggest possible package targeting industrial sectors, export controls, financials, maybe a visa policy. SWIFT is one element, but it’s not the focus of attention,” the diplomat told reporters.  

The diplomat stressed that SWIFT is “on the table” and will still be considered regardless of whether it’s included in the new package.  

“The first priority is now this very maximalist EU sanction package,” they said. 

SWIFT may be needed “for things which are very relevant for some EU member states,” the diplomat said, adding that it doesn’t necessarily “mean it’s excluded.”

Earlier today, the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania called for Russia to be cut off from SWIFT.

“We want this war to stop here and now. And we are not going to close front doors and back doors, which make it difficult to stop this war started by Mr. Putin as soon as possible,” the diplomat cautioned.

The diplomat stressed the need to keep “some doors open” enabling the dialogue required “to stop a war.”

Despite being asked several times, the diplomat did not address why Russian President Vladimir Putin is not being directly targeted by the sanctions.

EU member states that are “closest to Ukraine” also deserve empathy, the diplomat said, remarking that they are “now faced, in the 21st century, with something we thought we had left behind in the previous century.”

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