WASHINGTON, DPA – Long queues have formed anew at Russian cash machines as a growing list of international sanctions and business decisions to pull out of the country fanned fears that they would not be able to use their money for anything soon.
American Express became the latest Western financial firm to announce the end of Russian operations. In its Sunday statement, it cited “Russia’s ongoing, unjustified attack on the people of Ukraine.” The cessation of operations also hits Belarus.
It joins Mastercard and Visa, which made similar announcements on Saturday. That means those cards will not work inside Russia and, potentially worse for Russians, cards they already possess will no longer work outside of Russia.
Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank, assured customers that they would still be able to shop online, withdraw funds and make online payments, noting that domestic systems can work independently of the international ones dominated by Western firms.
But it also advised Russians living abroad to withdraw as much money as possible as quickly as possible, before the system stops functioning.
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Although that warning was directed at Russian expatriates, queues quickly formed at cash machines inside Russia as well.
Russia’s central bank also noted that its Mir payment card would still work in Turkey, Cyprus and a few other countries.
American Express, Mastercard and Visa were already seeing their business ebb in Russia. Many of their cash machines had already only been partially operational, depending on whether customers were using an internationally or locally issued card.