U.S. payments firms Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc on Saturday said they were suspending operations in Russia over the invasion of Ukraine, and that they would work with clients and partners to cease all transactions there.
Within days, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside of the country and any Visa cards issued outside of Russia will no longer work within the country, the company said.
“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” Al Kelly, chief executive officer of Visa, said in a statement.
U.S. President Joe Biden, in a call with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, welcomed Visa’s and Mastercard’s decisions to suspend their operations in Russia, the White House said.
“President Biden noted his administration is surging security, humanitarian, and economic assistance to Ukraine and is working closely with Congress to secure additional funding,” the WH added.
The move by the payments firms could mean more disruption for Russians who are bracing for an uncertain future of spiraling inflation, economic hardship and an even sharper squeeze on imported goods.
Unprecedented Western sanctions imposed on Russia have frozen much of the country’s central bank’s $640 billion in assets; barred several banks from global payments system SWIFT; and sent the rouble into free-fall, erasing a third of its value this week.