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Visa And Mastercard Spark Debate With Latest Crackdown On Russia
GROZNY, RUSSIA - MARCH 1, 2022: This image shows money and Visa and Mastercard cards.
Photo by Yelena AfoninaTASS via Getty Images)

On Saturday, The Daily Wire reported that financial giants Mastercard and Visa have announced they will be suspending all operations in Russia due to the nation’s military invasion of its neighbor Ukraine. The move could have enormous economic consequences for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as the two firms comprise roughly 74% of all transactions in Russia.

While many praised the move in hopes that it will cripple Russia’s spirit and dwindle their military morale, ultimately leading to a free Ukraine, others saw the move as a net-negative because of the potential global implications for future events.

Visa issued a press release on Saturday stating that “effective immediately,” the company will be working “with its clients and partners within Russia to cease all Visa transactions over the coming days.”

“Once complete, all transactions initiated with Visa cards issued in Russia will no longer work outside the country and any Visa cards issued by financial institutions outside of Russia will no longer work within the Russian Federation,” the company added.

“We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed,” Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa Inc., said in a statement. “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 also issued a statement, explaining that in the coming days, “cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network. And, any Mastercard issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.”

While the financial institutions believed they were operating morally, others did not see it that way.

Former attorney to President Donald J. Trump, Jenna Ellis, warned that the move was “terrifying.”

“Imagine if MasterCard suddenly doesn’t like what, say, the 47th president does,” Ellis tweeted, which was perceived as a veiled reference to Trump, who has hinted he will run again for the office. “Prepare for the great reset.”

Stephan Livera, a popular bitcoin podcaster and pundit, concurred with that assessment, tweeting, “Russian people losing access to Visa and Mastercard is cruel and harsh to everyday citizens who most probably had little to do with what the Russian government is doing.”

“Remember that citizens are not the same as the government,” Livera noted.

Yet, many welcomed the move for its potential efficacy in stopping Putin.

Prior to the decision, Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky had asked U.S. federal officials to shut the two companies off from servicing Russia, Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) said.

“Zelensky asked us to turn off MasterCard and Visa for Russia,” Sherman tweeted. “I agree. The Financial Services committee needs to look at this next week.”

Pop icon Cher was also begging for the two companies to drop their business in Russia.


Franak Viacorka, senior advisor to Belarusian human rights activist Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, praised the move, saying, “Strong hit on the Russian regime!” while sharing a political cartoon mocking Putin.

Seth Stodder, a former Obama appointee, also approved of the move. “Good move by #Mastercard and #Visa to suspend operations in #Russia, and further hammer the #RussiaEconomy as consequence of its murderous aggression against #Ukraine,” he tweeted.

Canadian economist Rupa Subramanya suggested that the move will help Mir, a Russian-owned and operated bank that came online after the 2014 invasion of Ukraine.

“Russia has been reducing its reliance on Western payment providers after sanctions in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea,” Subramanya noted. “Mastercard/Visa market share was already contracting because of a local payment system/card called Mir which came into effect in 2014/15. This should help Mir.”

It is unclear how long the suspension of services will last.

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