‘An unparalleled action': Switzerland forgoes neutrality to freeze Russian financial assets
Kremlin photo of Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin

Russians face a global financial backlash following Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine that is so extensive that even the Swiss are taking sides.

"Switzerland, a favorite destination for Russian oligarchs and their money, announced on Monday that it would freeze Russian financial assets in the country, setting aside a deeply rooted tradition of neutrality to join the European Union and a growing number of nations seeking to penalize Russia for the invasion of Ukraine," The New York Times reported. "After a meeting with the Swiss Federal Council, Switzerland’s president, Ignazio Cassis, said that the country would immediately freeze the assets of Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail V. Mishustin and Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, as well as all 367 individuals sanctioned last week by the European Union."

"The Swiss Federal Council has decided today to fully adopt EU sanctions," Swiss Federal President Ignazio Cassis said Monday, according to CNN. "It is an unparalleled action of Switzerland, who has always stayed neutral before."

The sanctions will prevent Lavrov from flying to Geneva on Tuesday to address the UN Human Rights Council, Russia announced.

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"Swiss national bank data showed that Russian companies and individuals held assets worth more than $11 billion in Swiss banks in 2020," the newspaper reported. "Switzerland cherishes a reputation for neutrality that has established Geneva as a home to the United Nations and a host to peace talks in numerous conflicts, including the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Recently, Geneva was the venue for last year’s summit between President Biden and Mr. Putin."

The sanctions are devastating Russia financially.

"The ruble cratered, the stock market froze and the public rushed to withdraw cash on Monday as Western sanctions kicked in and Russia awoke to uncertainty and fear over the rapidly spreading repercussions of President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine," the newspaper reported. "As the day began, Russia’s currency lost as much as a quarter of its value within hours. Scrambling to stem the decline, the Russian Central Bank more than doubled its key interest rate, banned foreigners from selling Russian securities and ordered exporters to convert into rubles most of their foreign-currency revenues."

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