The American card and payment method companies Visa and Mastercard have decided this Saturday to suspend all their operations in Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine and the economic uncertainty posed by the sanctions imposed by the international community against Moscow.
The announcement by both companies comes hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged a group of US lawmakers to exclude Russia from the international payments system. The cards will no longer work for purchases outside the country, and those issued by Russian banks from these two firms will no longer operate in Russian shops and ATMs.
“Effective immediately, Visa will work with its customers and partners inside Russia to suspend all transactions in the coming days. Once completed, all transactions with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and Visa cards issued by foreign financial institutions will no longer work within the Russian Federation,” Visa said in a statement.
“We are forced to act after the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the unacceptable events we are witnessing,” said Al Kelly, president and CEO of Visa, in statements collected by the Reuters agency. “This war and the constant threat to peace and stability demand that we respond in accordance with our values.”
For its part, Mastercard has appealed to “the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment” to justify its decision to suspend its network services in Russia. “This decision follows on from our recent decision to block multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network, as required by regulators globally,” the company statement explains.
The withdrawal of Visa and Mastercard is the latest measure in a wide range of retaliation against the Kremlin, which includes sanctions, but also cancellations and suspensions of commercial activity and other services, such as the international interbank payment platform SWIFT, which excluded Russia three days ago. The luxury brand Prada has announced this Saturday that it will stop selling in Russia, as well as the sports equipment firm Puma. The Spanish group Inditex, owner of Zara, will temporarily suspend activity in the 502 stores it has in Russia, as will the Spanish jewelry chain Tous. The giant IBM has also announced this temporary suspension of activities.
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Added to the economic boycott is a campaign of cancellations in the world of culture, with the veto of illustrious artists such as the soprano Anna Netrebko or the conductor Valeri Gergiev, among others, for not retracting their well-known support for the Kremlin leader.