Mastercard and Visa announced that they are blocking multiple Russian financial institutions following Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a result of U.S. sanction orders.
Last week, the Biden administration placed numerous Russian individuals and financial institutions on a sanctions list, dubbed the Specially Designated Nationals List. The list included Russia’s two biggest banks, Sberbank and VTB Bank, as well as the country's central bank.
Mastercard and Visa did not disclose in their statements the names of the companies they have blocked from their payment networks. Mastercard stated that it has blocked “multiple financial institutions,” while Visa said that it was “taking prompt action to ensure compliance with applicable sanctions, and is prepared to comply with additional sanctions that may be implemented.”
The payments giants have also pledged donations of $2 million each to aid in Ukrainian humanitarian relief, with Mastercard’s donation going to Red Cross, Save the Children and their employee assistance fund. Visa’s donation, meanwhile, is going to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
This move comes after the U.S., UK and European allies agreed to remove some Russian banks from SWIFT, the global interbank messaging system. Together, these efforts have started to disconnect Russia's banks from the international financial system. The sanctions have contributed to the ruble’s value plunging by nearly 30% this week.