Russia’s financial systems has suffered another big blow.
On Saturday, MasterCard and Visa announced they would cease all operations in the country amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The moves come shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for tougher sanctions on Russia, including the suspension of all commercial transactions.
“Effective immediately, Visa will work with its clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days,” Visa said in a press release. “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.”
Mastercard issued a similar statement on Saturday, saying it came to the decision after discussions with customers, partners, and various governments.
“We don’t take this decision lightly,” the company wrote. “Mastercard has operated in Russia for more than 25 years We have nearly 200 colleagues there who make this company so critical to many stakeholders. As we take these steps, we will continue to focus on their safety and well-being, including continuing to provide pay and benefits. When it is appropriate, and if it is permissible under the law, we will use their passion and creativity to work to restore operations.”
On Feb. 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a massive military invasion of Ukraine, using ballistic missiles and other weapons to attack major cities. Since then, the United Nations has recorded at least 750 civilian casualties in Ukraine—227 deaths and 525 injuries.
A number of Western companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, BP, Shell, and General Motors have also cut ties or reduced their operations in Russia as economic sanctions continue to tighten.