Poland demands Visa, Mastercard stop business in pro-Kremlin Belarus
A group of seven Democratic lawmakers – including Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres – are calling for Mastercard and Visa to suspend all operations in pro-Kremlin Belarus, which Russian troops have used as a base in their brutal war against Ukraine.
Torres — along with MPs Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jake Auchincloss, Jim Costa and Andre Carson — sent a letter to the CEOs of the credit card giants on Wednesday, blasting them for their complicity in the war.
“Belarus’ role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is clear,” the letter said, which is exclusive to the Post. “US and Ukrainian officials claim that the Belarusian leadership has allowed Belarus to serve as one of the bases for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. In addition, injured Russian troops were evacuated to Belarusian hospitals. Belarus is just as to blame for this war as Russia.”
Mastercard and Visa, like many other big companies, ceased doing business with Russia in early March – but the two have yet to crack down on Belarus, whose dictator Alexander Lukashenko is known for being a bootlick to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a good first step, but we believe more should be done,” the Pols wrote, requesting a formal response from both companies by April 20. “We would like to note that on March 6, American Express announced that it would cease operations in Russia and Belarus.”
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives almost unanimously passed legislation to end normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. Lawmakers insisted in their letter that “the private sector can also play a significant role in addressing the role of bad actors in this unjust war.”
The US also extended sanctions against Lukashenko and extended them to his family. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has blasted the Eastern European strongman’s “support and facilitation of the invasion of the Russian Federation”.
“The unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia is among the most serious international crises in recent history,” the letter said. “We believe and urge you to consider suspending your services in Belarus.”
Visa and Mastercard did not immediately respond to Post’s request for comment.