NEW YORK (AP) – Mastercard and Visa are suspending operations in Russia, the company said on Saturday, which was the latest blow to the country’s financial system since the invasion of Ukraine.
Mastercard has stated that cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the network, and any card issued outside the country will no longer work in Russian stores and ATMs.
“We are not taking this decision lightly,” Mastercard said in a statement, adding that it took the step after discussions with customers, partners and governments.
Visa said it is working with customers and partners in Russia to stop all Visa transactions in the coming days.
“We are forced to act after Russia’s unwarranted invasion of Ukraine and the unacceptable events we have witnessed,” Visa Chairman and CEO El Kelly said in a statement.
The suspensions are a continuation of more limited steps earlier in the week to block financial institutions from networks that serve as arteries for the payment system. The Russians have already been hit hard by the heavy sanctions and financial sanctions imposed by the U.S. government and others.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has fallen by more than a third to a record low. This is boosting inflation for Russian households, and all fears have led to extremely long queues at ATMs.
Many other companies around the world have also taken steps to increase financial pressure on Russia and its people because of its attack on Ukraine. Some are selling their stakes in Russian companies such as energy giant BP, while others, like Harley-Davidson, have stopped supplying products to the country.
“This war and the constant threat to peace and stability require that we respond in accordance with our values,” said Kelly of Visa.