The deadly alliance between Russia and China has moved into banking. Visa and Mastercard suspended all of their services in Russia after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a phone call with U.S. lawmakers. The move by the credit card companies was announced on Saturday, just days after they had blocked Russian banks from access to their networks.
In a statement, Visa announced the company will “cease all Visa transactions” in Russia. On Sunday, Reuters reported that “several Russian banks said on Sunday they would soon start issuing cards using the Chinese UnionPay card operator’s system couples with Russia’s own Mir network.”
Russia’s biggest lender, Sberbank, as well as Alfa Bank and Tinkoff made the announcements to switch to the Chinese system. Visa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Al Kelly said in a statement: “We are compelled to act following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and the unacceptable events that we have witnessed.”
Visa and Mastercard issued their statements just 16 minutes apart. “We don’t take this decision lightly” said Mastercard in a statement. According to Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA), Zelensky asked the lawmakers on a private video call to turn off Mastercard and Visa for Russia.
The Associated Press reported that “Russia accounted for 4 percent of all of Visa’s net revenue in its last fiscal year, while business conducted within, into and out of Russia similarly accounted for 4 percent of Mastercard’s net revenues in 2021.”
The Associated Press also reported that “since the invasion of Ukraine, the value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has plunged by more than a third to a record low.”
As a result, inflation is dramatically increasing “for Russian households, and all the fear has helped cause long lines at ATMs.”
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Trump: Tanks to Ukraine could escalate to use of ‘NUKES’
Former President Donald Trump stated bluntly on Truth Social, “FIRST COME THE TANKS, THEN COME THE NUKES. Get this crazy war ended, NOW. So easy to do!”
Trump was referring to the escalation of war in Ukraine. He, like many other commentators and lawmakers, are warning that the decision to continue sending weapons – and now tanks – could potentially lead to the use of “nuclear weapons.”
It’s mission creep and it’s dangerous, they say.
Why? Because Russian President Valdimir Putin has indicated in two different speeches that he would use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, if needed. Those warnings are not just bluster but a very real possibility.
And the escalation of war is visible.
Russia launched 55 missiles strikes across Ukraine Thursday, leaving 11 dead. The strikes come one day after the United States and Germany agreed to send tanks to Ukraine in an effort to aide the country. 47 of the 55 missiles were shot down according to Ukraine’s Air Force command.
Eleven lives were lost and another 11 were injured additionally leaving 35 buildings damaged in the wake of the attacks. According to The New York Times, Denys Shmyhal, said in a post on Telegram. “The main goal is energy facilities, providing Ukrainians with light and heat,” he said.
Ukraine is now demanding that they need F-16 fighter jets. In a post on twitter Ukrainian lawmaker, Oleksiy Goncharenko said, “Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.”
Morning. Missiles again over Ukraine. We need F16.
— Oleksiy Goncharenko (@GoncharenkoUa) January 26, 2023
The US has abstained from sending advanced jets in the chances that a volatile decision could foster more dangerous attacks like former President Trump’s post on Truth referred to. If the US did authorize the decision to lend Ukraine the F-16 jets Netherlands’ foreign minister, Wopke Hoekstra, would be willing to supply them. According to The New York Times, Hoekstra told Dutch lawmakers, “We are open-minded… There are no taboos.”
F-16 fighter jets are complex to work on, they are not the average aircraft that can be learned in a matter of weeks. It can take months for pilots to learn how to fly these birds. European and US officials have the concern that Ukrainian forces could potentially use the jets to fly into Russian airspace and launch attacks on Russian soil.
Western allies are trying to avoid such a provocation, because that could lead to nuclear warfare in reference to what Putin has said he would do to defend his country.
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