Western governments are no longer considering cutting Russian banks off from the Swift global payments system, Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper reported, citing German government sources.

Handelsblatt reported that, according to its government sources, economic sanctions targeting major Russian banks were being considered as an alternative.

The Russian rouble gained on the report.

Excluding Russia from Swift, which would effectively cut the country off from the global economy, has long been considered the ultimate sanction western countries could take against Russia to deter it from taking further military action against its neighbour Ukraine.

The Swift system is a global network used by almost all financial institutions worldwide to wire sums of money to each other and a cornerstone of the international payments system.