Visa, Mastercard suspend operations in Russia over Ukraine invasion
Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. are suspending their operations in Russia, a coordinated attempt that threatens to further isolate the economy from the international community following President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine.
In separate statements that arrived within minutes of each other on Saturday, Visa cited “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” while Mastercard referred to the “unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment.”
Each company gets about 4% of its net revenue from business linked to Russia.
The decisions come hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called on the companies to halt all business in Russia during a video call with U.S. lawmakers. Representative Brad Sherman, a California Democrat who’s a member of the House Financial Services Committee, tweeted after the call that he agreed with the Ukrainian leader.
Visa and Mastercard said any transactions initiated with their cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country, while any cards issued outside of Russia won’t work at Russian merchants or ATMs.
Visa noted that consumers in Russia who have a card issued in that country can still pay for goods and services there, but the company won’t process the transactions. That will be down to Russia’s National Payment Card System, or NSPK.
Visa and Mastercard products issued by Russian banks will continue to work until they expire, the Russian central bank said in a statement.
To reinforce its Indo-Pacific strategy, and in what is being seen as a response to China's aggressive outreach to Pacific Island states, the United States (US) - along with Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Japan - announced a new Partners in Blue Pacific initiative on Friday. This month, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, also undertook an eight country tour in the region and hosted a China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers Meeting in Fiji.
Russia's army has “fully occupied” the key Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk after weeks of fighting, its mayor said on Saturday, an important strategic win for Moscow as it seeks to gain full control over the east of the country. The industrial hub of Severodonetsk has been the scene of weeks of running battles, but the Ukrainian army said on Friday that its outgunned forces would withdraw to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk.
President Joe Biden criticised the US Supreme Court for making “terrible decisions”, a day after it struck down the constitutional right to abortion. Biden commented during a signing ceremony on Saturday for gun safety bill he supports, though he continued to sidestep questions about reforms to the court sought by some Democrats. He didn't respond to other questions, such as on court or filibuster reform, before heading off to Europe for international summits.
Ukraine's Severodonetsk was "fully occupied" by the Russian army, its mayor said on Saturday, after weeks of fighting over the key eastern city. The Ukrainian army on Friday said it would withdraw its forces from the city of some 100,000 inhabitants before the war to better defend the neighbouring city of Lysychansk. Mayor Oleksandr Striuk said civilians had started to evacuate the Azot chemical plant, where several hundred people had been hiding from Russian shelling.
Ukraine said it came under "massive bombardment" Saturday from neighbouring Belarus, a Russian ally not officially involved in the conflict, the day after announcing a retreat from the strategic city of Severodonetsk. Belarus has provided logistic support to Moscow since the February 24 invasion, particularly in the first few weeks, and like Russia has been targeted by Western sanctions -- but is officially not involved in the conflict.