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Visa, Mastercard suspend services in Russia amid invasion of Ukraine

Officials with the financial services giants Visa and Mastercard announced plans Saturday to suspend their operations in Russia amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

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In a statement, Visa said it was working with its clients and partners in Russia to cease all Visa transactions in the coming days. Once the process is 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,” according to the company.

Al Kelly, the chairman and CEO of Visa Inc., said the decision was made in response to “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,” Kelly said. “This war and the ongoing threat to peace and stability demand we respond in line with our values.”

>> Related: Ukraine invasion: What sanctions are being imposed on Russia?

Mastercard said in a statement that the “unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment” contributed to its decision to suspend its operations in Russia.

“With this action, cards issued by Russian banks will no longer be supported by the Mastercard network,” the company said. “And, any Mastercard issued outside of the country will not work at Russian merchants or ATMs.”

>> Related: Companies are pulling out of Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. Here’s a list

Officials added that they did not “take this decision lightly,” pointing to the more than 25 years the company has spent operating in Russia.

“These have been and will continue to be very difficult days – most of all for our employees and their families in Ukraine; for our colleagues with relatives and friends in the region; for our colleagues in Russia; and for the rest of us who are watching from afar,” company officials said. “As we take this step, we join with so many others in hoping for and committing to a more positive, productive and peaceful future for us all.”

>> Related: Ukrainian government raises $20 million after plea for cryptocurrency

The announcements come as Russians face heavy sanctions levied by several countries, including the U.S., in response to Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine. They’ve prompted Russia’s central bank to impose capital controls and temporarily close equity and bond markets, according to Bloomberg News. Last week, the value of the country’s currency, the ruble, sank to a record low against the dollar, the news site reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched attacks against Ukraine on Feb. 24. As of Saturday, fighting remains ongoing.

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