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Visa, Mastercard Block Russian Banks From Payment Networks Amid Ukraine Invasion

Last updated on March 2, 2022

Two credit card giants are blocking transactions from Russian financial institutions in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Visa and Mastercard both announced Tuesday that they would halt the processing of all transactions from Russian institutions in their payment systems, in compliance with U.S. sanctions on Russia.

“The invasion by Russian military forces over the past week has been devastating for the people of Ukraine. Our thoughts continue to be with those impacted,” Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach said in a statement announcing the move. “As a result of sanction orders, we have blocked multiple financial institutions from the Mastercard payment network.  We will continue to work with regulators in the days ahead to abide fully by our compliance obligations as they evolve.”

Miebach also announced that Mastercard would be making a $2 million donation to the Red Cross, Save the Children, and the company’s employee assistance fund for humanitarian relief.

“Our first priority has been the well-being of our employees and their families,” Miebach said. “Our teams are working around the clock to help secure their safety, using all the resources at our disposal. We will keep our employees in mind throughout the region as we navigate through this crisis.”

Mastercard’s Cyber & Intelligence and Corporate Security divisions were also working to monitor and prevent cyberattacks and to maintain the integrity of its network.

Visa also announced that it was complying with U.S. and international sanctions and was also contributing to humanitarian efforts.

“During the past few days, all of us at Visa have watched the tragic scenes in Ukraine with deep sadness and disbelief. Our hearts go out to the many people and families seeking safety, shelter and peace following the invasion of Ukraine,” Visa said in a statement. “Our number one priority is ensuring the safety and security of our colleagues who are directly impacted. We also want to support, together with our employees and Visa Foundation, humanitarian efforts to help meet basic needs.”

Visa announced it was donating $2 million to the U.S. fund for UNICEF to support humanitarian efforts in the region. It would also double match employee donations up to $1 million to support UNICEF and the Red Cross.

“Beyond these efforts, Visa is taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, and is prepared to comply with additional sanctions that may be implemented,” Visa added. “Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people and all those impacted. We hope for a peaceful resolution soon.”

The companies’ moves come after the Biden administration and American allies cut off Russian financial institutions from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). The Biden administration previously imposed its own set of sanctions last week, cutting off several of Russia’s largest banks from the ability to conduct transactions.

The two credit card companies join a number of other businesses that have taken action against Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. British oil titans BP and Shell announced Monday that they would divest from their financial stakes in Russian energy companies and projects. Additionally, BP CEO Bernard Looney and former CEO Bob Dudley said they would resign from their positions on the board of Russian oil company Rosneft. Shell divested from its stakes in Russian company Gazprom, as well as stakes it held in two energy development ventures and in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline.

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