Britain cites option of cutting Russia from SWIFT banking

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London (AFP) - Excluding Russia from the SWIFT banking system should be an option in lieu of sanctions if a truce in Ukraine is not respected, British Prime Minister David Cameron said.

Russia last month said it would retaliate strongly if it were to be cut off from SWIFT, the international financial industry's secure messaging system that facilitates transactions.

Speaking to a parliament committee on Tuesday, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed that Britain would push for tougher sanctions against Moscow if a tattered truce between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian forces falls apart.

"I would hope that the European Union collectively would respond very robustly with new sanctions, including so-called 'tier three' sanctions, really hitting the economy of Russia," Cameron said.

"But were that not possible then, of course, we should look at other avenues as well -- obviously looking at the SWIFT banking issues is a big decision but there is a logic for it."

"If Russia is going to leave the rules-based system of the 21st century, then they have to start thinking about whether it's going to be in the 21st century system when it comes to investment, when it comes to banking, when it comes to clearinghouses."

Members of the European Union parliament asked the bloc to consider such a move in a non-binding resolution last September.

Cameron's comments came as a peace deal for eastern Ukraine hammered out in the Belarussian capital Minsk 12 days ago is threatening to collapse amid repeated violations by the warring parties.

Ukraine accuses rebels of violating the truce by taking the strategic town of Debaltseve after the deal came into effect on February 15.

Kiev and the West accuse Moscow of backing the rebels by sending soldiers and weapons into the former Soviet state, which Russian President Vladimir Putin denies.

Britain announced Tuesday it would send 75 military personnel to train Kiev forces, though Cameron has ruled out sending lethal equipment.

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