More than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked as part of new EU sanctions against the country, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell announced on Sunday.
Speaking alongside European Commission chief Ursula Von der Leyen in Brussels, Borrell said later on Sunday he would provide the political endorsement of the 27 EU member states for a new package of sanctions against Russia.
"With these measures, more than half of the central bank reserves of Russia will be blocked," Borrell said.
Under the package, "important Russian banks will be excluded from the SWIFT system," Von der Leyen told the news conference.
Measures against neighboring country Belarus will also be "reinforced," Borrell said, in return for its role in "facilitating the Russian assault against Ukraine."
Von der Leyen also announced that the EU will provide finance to purchase weapons for Ukraine, adding that this is the first time the bloc has ever done so.
Borrell said the EU is doing so "because this war requires our engagement in order to support the Ukrainian army."
"We asked for SWIFT and we asked for arms and now we are delivering on both sides," the diplomat remarked.
Some more context: SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world, was founded in 1973 to replace the telex and is now used by over 11,000 financial institutions to send secure messages and payment orders. With no globally accepted alternative, it is essential plumbing for global finance.
On Saturday, the White House, along with the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and Canada, announced that they would expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, pledging to "collectively ensure that this war is a strategic failure for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin."
Read more about SWIFT here.