China’s UnionPay International has launched its operations in Crimea even as the US imposed economic sanctions against Russia.

The China UnionPay System will replace Visa and MasterCard that were forced to leave the Crimea market due to Western sanctions.

BaikalBank became the first bank to start issuing and acquiring UnionPay payment cards in Crimea.

UnionPay, which has been operating in Russia since 2013, will not support the restrictions and is now operating in six cities in the region.

“BaykalBank has already started issuing payment cards on the peninsula, most of which are produced within the framework of salary projects. The scope of customer service of UnionPay is actively expanding and covers six cities in the region: Simferopol, Sevastopol, Yalta, Yevpatoria, Saky and Kerch,” the bank said in a statement.

BaykalBank Crimean branch head Olesya Burdukovskaya said that UnionPay card holders can pay for goods, services and withdraw cash in over 150 countries.

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“At present, UnionPay is the first major international payment system that will be fully operational in the Crimea,” he added.