Russians line up at ATMs for U.S dollars as harsh sanctions and SWIFT crackdown bite

  • Russians lined up at ATMs over the weekend to withdraw U.S dollars as fears that the ruble would crash sparked following harsh sanctions against President Putin.
  • The EU, U.S, and Canada also pledged to kick Russia out of the SWIFT funds transfer protocol, effectively cutting off Russian banks from the global financial industry.

Major global powers have finally acted against Russia in protest of President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Countries including the U.S, the U.K, Canada, and key EU members have pledged to cut off Russian banks from SWIFT, the global funds transfer protocol. Russia has also been slapped with some of the harshest sanctions. All these factors have driven fear into Russians who lined up at ATMs over the weekend seeking to withdraw U.S dollars as the future of the Russian ruble remains uncertain.

According to a Bloomberg report, a number of banks in Russia are already selling the USD at about a third higher than its market rate as demand soars. This has done little to stop Russians from seeking the greenback and other foreign currencies.

Yesterday, February 27, thousands of Russians lined up at ATMs to withdraw the foreign currencies. Many were unlucky as the ATM reserves were depleted in the morning hours.

Vladimir, a 28-year-old programmer from the capital Moscow was among those who were unlucky and didn’t get the USD. He told the outlet:

I’ve stood in lines for an hour, but foreign currency is gone everywhere, just rubles. I got a late start because I didn’t think this was possible. I’m in shock.

The scramble for foreign currencies came after it emerged that Russia had been hit with what experts described as “the harshest sanctions in a generation.” They include European countries declaring that they had cut off the country from their airspace. Popular global payment services like ApplePay have also stopped working in the country, further cutting off Russians from the global payments space.

Over the weekend, major global powers also announced that they had cut Russia off from SWIFT.

In a joint statement, these powers said, “This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally.”

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal thanked these powers for standing with his country, tweeting:

Appreciate your support and real help in this dark time. Ukrainian people will never forget this! Keep holding the line! We are on our land.

The scramble for the dollar comes at a time when experts have opined that even Bitcoin can’t save Russia.

Read More: Will Bitcoin be the savior for Putin and Russia? Here’s what the experts say