Visa, Mastercard block Russian financial institutions after sanctions

FILE PHOTO: Illustration of the Mastercard logo on a credit card
FILE PHOTO: The Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this illustration August 30, 2017. REUTERS / Thomas White

March 1, 2022

By Maria Ponnezhath

(Reuters) – U.S. payment card companies Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc have blocked many Russian financial institutions from their networks, complying with government sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

On Monday, Visa said it was taking swift action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding that it would provide $2 million in humanitarian aid. Mastercard also promised to contribute $2 million.

“We will continue to work with regulators in the coming days to fully comply with our compliance obligations as they evolve,” Mastercard said in a separate statement late Monday. .

The government sanctions require Visa to suspend access to its network for entities listed as Special Designated Citizens, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The United States has added various Russian financial firms to the list, including the country’s central bank and second-largest lender VTB.

On Saturday, the US, UK, Europe and Canada announced new sanctions against Russia – including blocking some lenders from accessing the international payments system SWIFT.

Russians flocked to ATMs and waited in long lines on Sunday and Monday amid fears that bank cards could stop working or that banks would restrict cash withdrawals.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Many Western banks, airlines and more have severed ties with Russia, calling its actions unacceptable. European countries and Canada have closed their airspace to Russian planes.

(Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Kenneth Maxwell, Kirsten Donovan) Visa, Mastercard block Russian financial institutions after sanctions

Caroline Bleakley

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