USA Places Economic Pressure on Russia
The United States is flexing its far-reaching economic muscle upon Russian. Will the rest of the world be next? Is this how the mark of the beast is going to be enforced with its buy and sell restrictions? Russia is losing billions of dollars because of these sanction. "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" (Rev. 13:17). -Advent Messenger Commentary
Russian Stocks Down as Banks Suffer Amid SanctionsAssociated Press
March 21, 4014
by Nataliya Vasilyeva
The sanctions are already being felt on the streets of Russia as Visa and MasterCard stopped serving two Russian banks, a day after the U.S. ordered sanctions against two dozen people from President Vladimir Putin's entourage. Russian shares continued to falter Friday, and the benchmark MICEX index was down 2 percent in late afternoon trading.
The Russian stock market has lost than more 10 percent this month amid growing tensions between Russia and the West.In comments carried by Russian news agencies, Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov became the first Russian official to admit to an economic fallout from the sanctions.The economic sanctions ordered on Thursday by President Barack Obama targeted 20 people, including Putin's chief of staff and four influential businessmen who are believed to be his lifelong friends, and also a major Russian bank that provides them support.
Two Russian banks, including Bank Rossiya, the Russian lender which was put on the Treasury's sanctions list, said Visa and MasterCard have stopped providing services to them. U.S. officials described Russia's 15th largest bank with $12 billion in assets as a "personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation."
And clients of another Russian lender, SMP, woke up Friday to discover that their bank cards are not as useful as they were. In a statement, it said Visa and MasterCard stopped providing their services "without prior notification." SMP's co-owners, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg — billionaire brothers and childhood friends of Putin — were hit by the U.S. sanctions.
The bank, which is in Russia's top 40 with $5 billion in assets, said it had no assets in the United States and described Visa and MasterCard's actions as "illegitimate" because the bank, unlike its owners, was not covered by the sanctions.
As a result, customers in the two banks won't be able to use cards backed by Visa and MasterCard to buy products in shops online or withdraw cash from ATMs beyond their own bank's. They can also get cash directly inside their banks' branches.
Since U.S. and EU banks and investors may well be reluctant to lend to Russia under the current circumstances, the economy may slow further and the private sector may require official support.