Visa and Mastercard suspend operations in Russia as conflict in Ukraine intensifies

6 March 2022, 07:30 | Updated: 6 March 2022, 09:44

Visa and Mastercard will not operate in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine.
Visa and Mastercard will not operate in Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Visa and Mastercard have suspended operations in Russia as the raging war in Ukraine continues into an eleventh day.

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The move will mean Russian banks will no longer be supported by either network and international cards will not work inside the country.

It is the latest blow to the country's financial system after its invasion of Ukraine.

"We don't take this decision lightly," Mastercard said in a statement, adding that it made the move after discussions with customers, partners and governments.

Meanwhile, Visa said it was working with clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days.

Visa's chief, Al Kelly, said in a statement: "We are compelled to act following Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed."

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Western sanctions on Russia have led to Russia's banks being cut off from an international transaction system as well as other financial institutions being hit.

The US, European Union and UK all agreed to block selected Russian banks from the Swift system, which moves money around thousands of banks and other financial institutions worldwide.

As sanctions hit last week, the rouble crashed, with the stock market being forced to close too.

Russia's central bank later raised its key interest rate from 9.5 per cent to 20 per cent in response on Monday, with President Putin later said on Saturday that the sanctions being introduced by the West were "equivalent to declaring a war".

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It comes as war continues to escalate in Ukraine, with Russia reported to still be shelling the city of Mariupol, despite agreeing to a temporary ceasefire on Saturday, as well as bombing other popular areas in Ukraine.

However, British military intelligence has said that the scale and strength of the Ukrainian resistance has continued to hold Russia back, adding that the Russian advance was being slowed by Ukrainian attacks on supply lines.