(The Hill) — The White House on Saturday announced that the United States and allies will kick certain Russian banks out of a major international banking system, a significant step in a bid to cripple the Russian economy in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. 

The Biden administration and European allies agreed to cut Russia out of access to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a rapid shift from just days ago when it appeared such a move was unlikely in the near future.

The U.S. and European nations also committed to imposing measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from using its reserves to undermine sanctions.

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“We stand with the Ukrainian people in this dark hour. Even beyond the measures we are announcing today, we are prepared to take further measures to hold Russia to account for its attack on Ukraine,” the nations announced in a joint statement.

Banks across the world use SWIFT to finalize transactions and transfers. Cutting Russia off from SWIFT would make it incredibly difficult for its banks to operate efficiently, but could also wreak economic havoc for European nations that depend on Russian oil and natural gas exports. 

Biden on Thursday had indicated kicking Russia out of SWIFT was not part of the initial rounds of sanctions because not all European allies were on board with the measure. But as fighting intensified in Ukraine in recent days and Russia moved close to the capital of Kyiv, pressure grew for Western nations to offer a tougher response.

This is a developing story.