Visa and Mastercard block Russian financial institutions after sanctions

A Mastercard logo is seen on a credit card in this August 30, 2017 illustration. REUTERS/Thomas White

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March 1 (Reuters) – U.S. payment card companies Visa Inc (VN) and Mastercard Inc have blocked several Russian financial institutions from their network, complying with government sanctions imposed following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Visa said Monday it was taking swift action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, adding it would donate $2 million for humanitarian relief. Mastercard also pledged to contribute $2 million.

“We will continue to work with regulators in the coming days to fully meet our compliance obligations as they evolve,” Mastercard said in a separate statement late Monday.

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Government sanctions are forcing Visa to suspend access to its network for entities listed as specially designated nationals, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters. The United States added various Russian financial firms to the list, including the country’s central bank and second-largest lender VTB (VTBR.MM).

On Saturday, the United States, Britain, Europe and Canada announced new sanctions against Russia, including blocking certain lenders’ access to the international payment system SWIFT. Read more

Russians rushed to ATMs and waited in long lines on Sunday and Monday, fearing bank cards would stop working or banks would limit cash withdrawals. Read more

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.

Many Western banks, airlines and others have cut ties with Russia, calling the country’s actions unacceptable. European nations and Canada have closed their airspace to Russian planes. Read more

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Reporting by Maria Ponnezhath in Bangalore; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Kenneth Maxwell, Kirsten Donovan

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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