SWIFT is a non governmental organ that has dealt in international payments since 1973. Hong Kong and Singapore played roles in the growth of this network by facilitating ‘live operations’ in the 1980s. The number of participant countries went up to 52 in that decade (from the original 15).
The possible removal of Russia from SWIFT was put on the table by the Polish and British foreign ministers in March 2015. The Polish statement highlighted this sanction* as a ‘nuclear weapon’ of ‘last resort’ to attack the Russians over the issue of Ukraine (its civil war). Russia replied that it would repay the tit for tat. The precedence of SWIFT sanctioning against Iran from 2012 (removed only recently) essentially crippled the country’s economy. Earlier in 2014, sanctions were personalised at powerholders linked to Russian President Valdimir Putin.
The word <sanction> is a tricky one. It can, in summary, mean approve or deny – diametric opposites! One can check out the verb <peruse> as well, which according to the Collins and Merriam-Webster dictionaries likewise follow a similar model. The Oxford Dictionaries (online) however has only one. Thus the key to deciphering which meaning/definition depends on the context of the paragraph or passage. In other words, by inference.
AFP. (7-8 Mar 2015). Russia’s exclusion from Swift a last-resort ‘nuclear weapon’: Poland. The Business Times Weekend. Singapore.
SWIFT. (2016). SWIFT History. https://www.swift.com/about-us/history.
Tom Bergin and Nathan Layne. (20 May 2016). Special Report: Cyber thieves exploit banks’ faith in SWIFT transfer network. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cyber-heist-swift-specialreport-idUSKCN0YB0DD. Reuters (US Edition).