Mastercard, Visa Suspend Russian Operations, Condemn Unprovoked Attack on Ukraine 

The world’s two largest credit card and digital payment processors both announced Saturday (March 5) that they were suspending operations in Russia in response to its unprovoked attack on Ukraine.

 In separate but similar statements issued within minutes of each other by Visa and Mastercard, the two financial services giants both escalated original steps taken last week to shut down its network in Russia.

 “With this action, cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network. And, any Mastercard issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs,” the New York-based company’s statement said, pointing to the “unprecedented nature of the current conflict” for its decision.

For its part, Visa said it was “compelled to act” and noted that it was working with clients and partners in 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,” the statement said.

According to Visa Chairman and CEO Al Kelly, while the company regrets the impact that its decision will have on employees, clients, partners, merchants and cardholders in Russia, there really was no other option.

“This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values,” Kelly said in a statement to the press.

The actions by Mastercard and Visa come in the wake of a week of global outrage and coordinated response to financially isolate Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies. In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden pledged to “cripple the Russian economy” after central banks moved to freeze over $600 billion in foreign reserves worldwide.

In addition, the nation’s banks have also been blocked from moving money internationally via the SWIFT Network, and there are also discussions underway that could levy additional sanctions, including bans on the importation of Russian oil and gas, that would be equivalent to those imposed on Iran, Cuba and North Korea.

Read also: Global Banks Rush to Comply With Russian Sanctions

On Tuesday (March 1), American Express chairman and CEO Stephen Squeri issued a public statement to the media and colleagues which noted that while the company did not employ anyone directly in Ukraine, it did have hundreds of colleagues in surrounding countries, including a small number in Russia, all of whom were confirmed safe.

“Our business in Russia is small, consisting of one partner that issues cards and a handful that acquire merchants for payment transactions,” Squeri said, noting that Amex would continue to comply with the U.S. and international sanctions that had halted relationships with bank partners in Russia.