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Payment majors Mastercard, Visa and American Express have suspended their operations in Russia over the country’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions.

Mastercard, which previously blocked several Russian financial institutions on its payment network, said that it is suspending its network services in Russia.

As a result, the Mastercard network will not support cards issued by Russian banks both inside and outside Russia. In addition, cards issued outside of the country cannot be used at merchants as well as ATMs in the country.

Mastercard said in a statement: “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.

“As we take these steps, we will continue to focus on their safety and well-being, including continuing to provide pay and benefits. When it is appropriate, and if it is permissible under the law, we will use their passion and creativity to work to restore operations.”

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In a separate announcement, Visa said that it is working with its Russian clients and partners to stop all Visa transactions over the coming days.

Once effective, Visa cards issued in Russia cannot be used for transactions outside the country and cards issued outside Russia will not be supported inside the country.

Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said: “We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed.

“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.”

American Express also suspended all operations in Russia and Belarus. The company said that its globally issued cards will no longer work at merchants or ATMs in Russia and cards issued by Russian banks will not work outside of the country on its global network.

It previously stopped its partnerships with banks in Russia impacted by sanctions.