Two Turkish banks suspend use of Russia's Mir payment system

One of Turkey’s biggest non-state banks, İşbank, on Monday said it had suspended use Russian Mir payment system, T24 news site reported, days after a Russian official who runs the system was sanctioned by the United States.

Washington has implemented sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, targeting people and entities accused of helping Moscow bypass financial sanctions.

The United States on Thursday sanctioned the chief executive of the Bank of Russia's National Card Payment System (NSPK), saying it was holding Moscow accountable for its invasion and continuing war against Ukraine that began on February 24, Reuters reported.

Later on Monday, Denizbank, a Turkish unit of the United Arab Emirates’ NBD, also announced that it was suspending transactions through Russia’s Mir system, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Denizbank said the lender was “currently unable to provide,” without providing more information, the newspaper said.

Three Turkish banks continue to process payments using Mir. Turkey is among a few countries, along with a handful of former Soviet republics, that accept the system.

Mir cards have become increasingly important for Russians after U.S. payment firms Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc suspended operations in Russia, with cards issued in Russia ceasing to working abroad following the Ukraine conflict.

NATO member Turkey maintains good relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has been engaged in a balancing act between since conflict erupted between the countries. The country has acted as an intermediary between Russia and Ukraine; and was involved in the recent deal to unlock grain exports from Ukraine.

Ankara has not imposed sanctions on Russia, unlike the U.S. and most countries of Europe.

Last month, on his return from talks with President Vladimir Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that five Turkish banks had adopted Russia’s Mir payments system, Bloomberg reported.

(This article was updated with announcement from Denizbank in paragraphs 4-6)

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