The British government is urging EU nations to expel Russian banks from the Swift financial messaging network, as tensions grow over the escalating crisis in Ukraine.
A weekend report from Bloomberg says that UK prime minister David Cameron pushed for a motion on Russian access to Swift at a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels on Saturday.
Citing an anonymous 'government official', Bloomberg says the UK planned to sound out EU leaders on the possibility of blocking Russian access to Swift under an expansion of sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine.
Similar restrictions were imposed on Iran in 2012, when the European Council sought to choke off the supply of funds for the country's nuclear energy programme.
The exclusion of Russian banks from the Swift network would have wider-ranging repercussions, with serious consequences for international trade flows and transaction banking operations.
Russia's government has already drafted a bill to create a new Russian system for domestic bank transfers, Deputy Finance Minister Alexey Moiseev told the Itar-Tass news service late last week.
Attempts by Western powers to disrupt payments flows to Russian businesses through the credit card networks have already created big problems for Visa and MasterCard. Incensed by the interference, Russian president Putin responded with plans to build a competitive payment network and introduced a new law requiring the US card giants to deposit billions of dollars of collateral with the central bank.