How NATO could block Russia from the global financial system using SWIFT : The Indicator from Planet Money Russia has the United States and its allies worried about a potential invasion of Ukraine. One of the most painful sanctions NATO could impose would cut Russia's economy from the world.

How a bank messaging system could decimate Russia

How a bank messaging system could decimate Russia

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MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP via Getty Images
A Russian flag flies next to the headquarters of B&N Bank in downtown Moscow on September 21, 2017. - Russia's central bank said on September 21, 2017 that it was taking over the nation's eighth-largest lender, B&N Bank, less than a month after it rescued another major lender to avoid a crisis in the banking sector. (Photo by Maxim ZMEYEV / AFP) (Photo by MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP via Getty Images)
MAXIM ZMEYEV/AFP via Getty Images

The recent tension on the Ukrainian border has a lot of people worried about the potential for a Russian invasion. The United States and NATO are trying to avoid military conflict, which means there's been a lot of focus on non-military options: economic sanctions. One of the biggest sanctions is so extreme that it has so far only been applied to countries like North Korea and Iran: A total ban from the SWIFT messaging system for banks.

Today, we learn about SWIFT. What it is, why it's important, and what a ban of Russia from the system could mean for its economy.

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