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Visa and Mastercard have started blocking access to sanctioned Russian banks

Published Mar 1st, 2022 5:08PM EST
protestors hold up pro-Ukraine signs

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The global financial system is continuing to throttle essentially every aspect of the Russian economy, in an attempt to help bring the country’s invasion of Ukraine to a swift end. Among the latest Ukraine news as the week began? Financial sanctions led credit card issuers Visa and Mastercard to say they’re blocking some Russian banks from tapping their networks. Which can have all sorts of everyday consequences even for average Russians. Let alone the country’s powerful oligarchs.

Both credit card issuers sent out statements along these lines in recent days. Mastercard, for example, announced that: “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.”

SWIFT Russia ban, blocked credit cards, Visa and Mastercard statements

This comes as major Western countries approved a move to begin to decouple certain Russian financial institutions from the global SWIFT financial system.

Images began to circulate on social media in recent days of, for example, metro riders queuing up at a Moscow subway station turnstile. The line was backed up pretty heavily because customers were having to fish around for cash. Root around for the money, slide it into the machine, and get approved one by one. When you can’t do a quick credit card swipe or tap-to-pay payment? As you might imagine, the bottlenecks quickly form.

There are also reports, meanwhile, that Russians are going to start running into trouble paying for services like Spotify with their credit cards.

“During the past few days, all of us at Visa have watched the tragic scenes in Ukraine with deep sadness and disbelief,” Visa’s statement reads. “Our hearts go out to the many people and families seeking safety, shelter, and peace following the invasion of Ukraine.” The company added that it’s taking “prompt action” to comply with Russian sanctions. And that it will likewise comply with any more that come down the pike.

Latest Ukraine news

a ukranian solider holds a rifle
A Ukranian soldier, shown at the Beresteiski Metro station area which was attacked by Russian forces on February 26, 2022. Image source: Mirrorpix/MEGA

Meanwhile, the sanctions and blacklisting of anything tied to Russia at the moment all keep piling up. Sort of like witnessing the cancellation of an entire country, in real-time. Among the latest Ukraine news developments along these lines:

  • The Cannes Film Festival doesn’t want anyone with a connection to the Kremlin at its 75th iteration this May. “As the world has been hit by a heavy crisis in which a part of Europe finds itself in a state of war, the Festival de Cannes wishes to extend all its support to the people of Ukraine and all those who are in its territory,” reads a statement the organization released Tuesday.
  • Facebook parent company Meta, meanwhile, is restricting Russian state media across all its platforms. Including on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
  • The New York City police pension fund has reportedly voted to divest of Russian securities.
  • And in a research report released Tuesday, one economist predicted grim news for Russia’s economy. Specifically, that the global sanctions will cut Russian GDP by as much as 6 percent.
  • Russian billionaires have even started speaking out about the Ukraine invasion. Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska are the first to do so. “War can never be the answer,” wrote Fridman in a letter to employees. He founded Russia’s largest private bank and currently runs a private equity firm. “I do not make political statements. I am a businessman with responsibilities to my many thousands of employees in Russia and Ukraine. This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years.”
Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.

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