NEW YORK - Mastercard and Visa are suspending their operations in Russia, the companies said Saturday, in the latest blow to the country’s financial system after its invasion of Ukraine.
Mastercard said cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by its network and any card issued outside the country will not work at Russian stores or ATMs.
"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.
Visa said it’s working with clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days.
"We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed," Visa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said in a statement.
The suspensions are a follow-up to more limited moves earlier in the week to block financial institutions from the networks that serve as arteries for the payments system. Russian people have already been hit hard by heavy sanctions and financial penalties imposed by the U.S. government and others.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has plunged by more than a third to a record low. That’s pushing up inflation for Russian households, and all the fear has helped cause some tremendously long lines at ATMs.
Many other companies around the world have also made moves to increase the 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 halted product shipments to the country.
"This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values," Visa’s Kelly said.