The US State Department, along with America's allies in Europe, is considering the possibility of completely isolating Russia from the global financial system if it attempts to invade Ukraine, it revealed on Tuesday.
Speaking to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland explored possible ways that Washington could punish Moscow for any military incursion.
"What we are talking about would amount to essentially isolating Russia completely from the global financial system, with all the fallout that would entail for Russian businesses, for the Russian people, for their ability to work and travel and trade," Nuland said.
She noted that she had presented other diplomatic options that she did not want to mention in a public setting, at a private meeting the day before.
Nuland's threat comes just one day after a report was published by US news agency Bloomberg, which suggested that Washington could target major Russian banks and could even disconnect Moscow from the SWIFT banking network.
The undersecretary's comments were made shortly after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart, Joe Biden. The conversation lasted more than two hours, and saw Biden warning the Russian leader that "the US and [its] Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures" in the case of a military escalation.
The virtual summit came as tensions remained high on the border between Ukraine and Russia. The US-led NATO bloc has warned Moscow that any military aggression against Ukraine will be met with severe financial measures, while Russia has denied all accusations that it is planning such a maneuver, stating that any troop movements are an internal matter and of no concern to any other country.