Two Turkish banks suspend Russian Mir cards amid US pressure

Two Turkish banks suspend Russian Mir cards amid US pressure
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As the US steps up pressure on Turkish businesses to prevent Russia from evading sanctions, Turkey’s Isbank and Denizbank suspended transactions through Russian Mir payment system

Turkish banks Isbank and Denizbank have suspended use of Russian payment system Mir, the banks announced on Monday, amid US warnings to Turkish businesses over helping Russia to skirt sanctions.

First, Isbank said that it was suspending clients’ use of Mir cards, saying it was seeking clarity on the sanctions. A little later in the day, Denizbank also said it stopped transactions in the Mir system.

Mir system, which Russia adopted as a domestic alternative to Visa and Mastercard who exited the country after the war erupted, is very popular among the tens of thousands Russian tourists who visited  Turkey this year.

Reports said last week that several Russian tourists had problems processing their cards in several hotels in Turkey’s southern resorts. 

Ankara opposes Western sanctions on Russia and develops bilateral ties as its exports to Russia saw record levels since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. 

Financial Times reported last week that Western nations were growing concerned over increased economic ties between Turkey and Russia, particularly after several meetings between leaders Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin, including last week in Uzbekistan.

An EU delegation will head to Turkey to express its concerns to Turkish officials directly while the US will focus attention on Turkish banks that have integrated into Russia’s domestic payments system Mir, the FT said, citing anonymous Western officials, it said.

The expanded U.S. sanctions last week targeted the chief executive of the Bank of Russia's National Card Payment System (NSPK), which runs Mir.