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Mastercard and VISA Suspend Operations in Russia

Mastercard and Visa cards in Russia
VISA and Mastercard have stopped operating in Russia after forces under President Putin invaded Ukraine. Credit: / CC BY 4.0

Mastercard and VISA will stop operations in Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, effective immediately. Card payments are no longer supported by the Visa and Mastercard networks within Russian territory.

Cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the international Mastercard and VISA networks and cards issued outside of the country will not work in Russian stores or ATMs.

This is the latest blow to the country’s financial system after severe sanctions were implemented by a host of nations around the world in response to the Russian invasion.

“It’s with all of this in mind – and noting the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment – we have decided to suspend our network services in Russia,” noted the Mastercard corporate office in a statement. The company had been operating in the country for more than 25 years and had hundreds of employees in Moscow.

“This decision follows from our recent action to block multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network, as required by regulators globally, ” the statement said.

VISA, the other giant in the digital payment realm, also issued a statement about the development, saying “Effective immediately, VISA will work with its clients and partners within Russia to cease all VISA transactions over the coming days. Once complete, all transactions initiated with VISA cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any VISA cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within the Russian Federation.”

“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” said Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of VISA Inc. “We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia. This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”

VISA, Mastercard suspension in Russia comes after severe sanctions

Last month, US President Joe Biden announced further sanctions on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, noting what he called the “bizarre assertions” made by Russian President Vladimir Putin as to the right his country had to occupy Ukraine.

Biden said that two large Russian financial institutions, the VEB (A Russian state development corporation) and the country’s military bank, would be targeted in that round of sanctions, which go much deeper than those he had announced one day prior, when the country’s forces first entered the Donbass region.

The sanctions will target Russia’s financial institutions, sovereign debt and elite families. “And if Russia goes further with this invasion, we stand prepared to go further with sanctions,” Biden had said at the time.

Despite the severe sanctions imposed, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had called NATO countries and the international community to take further actions in order to help his country fight Russia at that time, as the latter was closing in on the Ukrainian capital of Kiyv.

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