The financial giants Visa and MasterCard have shown themselves to be on the side of the angels, suspending operations in Russia in light of its invasion of Ukraine. Visa explained in a press release on Saturday: “Effective immediately, Visa will work 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.” Also on Saturday, MasterCard announced: “We have decided to suspend our network services in Russia.” Righteous! But as is so often the case, there could be a severe downside for Americans, and particularly American conservatives.
Al Kelly, chairman and chief executive officer of Visa Inc., explained that it was a tough step, but it just had to be done: “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.”
MasterCard likewise struck a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger pose: “For more than a week, the world has watched the shocking and devastating events resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Our colleagues, our customers and our partners have been affected in ways that most of us could not imagine.” It decided to suspend operations in Russia after “constant dialogue with our customers, partners and governments.” MasterCard claimed to have “received perspectives from our employees, in addition to people across the industry, consumers and our shareholders. We have also considered what would be most important to support the continued availability of services, if possible, to impacted people in the region.” And in light of “the unprecedented nature of the current conflict and the uncertain economic environment,” it ended its Russia operations.