After private lenders, Turkish state banks to drop Russian Mir payments

The last three Turkish banks still processing transactions using Russian Mir cards are withdrawing from the payment system, a senior official said on Wednesday, after the United States said it would target people and businesses if found that they are helping Moscow to circumvent financial sanctions.

The move, if and when publicly announced, would come after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called a high-level, business-focused meeting on Friday to discuss Mir and alternatives to the system.

Two private Turkish banks, DenizBank and Işbank, were the first to suspend use of Mir last week after the US warned financial institutions against entering into new agreements or expanding existing ones with Russia’s Mir card operator.

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The three state lenders – Halkbank, VakifBank and Ziraat – were still working with the cards.

The three banks “are still processing (the pending) payments, but they have set a future date for the withdrawal,” the senior Turkish official told Agence France-Presse (AFP), speaking on condition of anonymity as there was no formal one Decision of the banks has been announced.

The pullout was also reported by Bloomberg, which quoted a senior Turkish official as saying the three banks decided on Tuesday to exit the scheme.

The US Treasury Department warned last month that Turkish banks using Russian cards “run the risk of supporting Russia’s efforts to circumvent US sanctions” and could face sanctions themselves.

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Washington recently extended its sanctions to the head of the organization that runs the payment system popular with the tens of thousands of Russian tourists who arrived in Türkiye this year.

NATO member Türkiye has close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv, its Black Sea neighbors. She has criticized the invasion of Moscow and provided Ukraine with weapons, including drones, which played a significant role in deterring a Russian advance early in the conflict, while refusing to join the West in imposing sanctions on Russia – an attitude that has helped her efforts to mediate results.

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Many Russians have come to Türkiye since the February invasion left them few other travel options and sanctions cut off their use of major US credit cards.

Russia is among the top tourist sources for Türkiye, and Russians have been the top property buyers this year.

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