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American Express, Visa and Mastercard suspend operations in Russia

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: American Express
Visa, Mastercard and American Express have all suspended operations in Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

In a statement, Stephen J. Squeri, chairman and chief executive at American Express, said: “In light of Russia’s ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine, we are suspending all operations in Russia.

“As a result, globally issued American Express cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia. Additionally, cards issued locally in Russia by Russian banks will no longer work outside of the country on the American Express global network.”

American Express also added that it was also suspending all business operations in Belarus and halting its relationships with banks in Russia impacted by the US and international government sanctions.

The company also pledged 1 million US dollars in aid to organisations including the International Rescue Committee, International Medical Corps, American Red Cross, and UNICEF’s emergency appeal to provide support to people in Ukraine and neighbouring countries impacted by this crisis.

Visa and Mastercard also confirmed it was suspending its Russian operations.

Card provider Visa said it was working with clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days. Meaning that all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within the Russian Federation.

“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” said Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa Inc. “We regret the impact this will have on our valued colleagues, and on the clients, partners, merchants and cardholders we serve in Russia. This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”

Mastercard added that due to the “unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment,” of the conflict in Ukraine that it has paused its services in Russia. This means that cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network regardless of where they’re used, inside or outside of Russia. In addition, any Mastercard issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.

“We don’t take this decision lightly. Mastercard has operated in Russia for more than 25 years. We have nearly 200 colleagues there who make this company so critical to many stakeholders,” explained Mastercard in a statement. “When it is appropriate, and if it is permissible under the law, we will use their passion and creativity to work to restore operations.”

American Express