The European Union wants to cut all links between Russia and the global financial system, France's finance minister said on Friday, after the bloc agreed new sanctions against Moscow over its attack on Ukraine.
The EU "wants to cut all the links between Russia and the global financial system", Bruno Le Maire said at the start of a meeting of European finance ministers.
"We want to isolate Russia financially... We want to dry up the financing," he added.
Speaking hours after European national leaders agreed further sanctions on Russia to match those from Britain, the United States and other countries, Le Maire said Moscow was "an economic partner of secondary importance" for France.
But he added that Paris would protect households from any increase in energy prices due to the confrontation, a key concern as Europe buys much of its natural gas supplies from Russia.
Speaking alongside Le Maire, his German counterpart Christian Lindner spelled out that "in one-off cases payments (to Russia) remain possible, for example to pay for gas deliveries".
Berlin this week said it would halt certification of a new pipeline bringing gas from Russia known as Nord Stream 2, but an existing direct link remains in operation.
Both finance ministers said cutting Russia off from the global payments processing network SWIFT remained on the table but would be a last resort, after leaders stopped short of the step overnight.
"We already have a complete blockade of Russian banks," Lindner said. "Business dealings with Russia are as good as stopped."He added that "further steps are possible but their consequences must be weighed, the idea is to inflict consequences on the Russian economy" rather than cause harm to Europe.