A group of seven Democratic lawmakers — including Bronx Rep. Ritchie Torres — are demanding Mastercard and Visa suspend all business operations in pro-Kremlin Belarus, which Russian troops have been using as a staging ground in their brutal war on Ukraine.
Torres — along with Reps. Steve Cohen, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Jake Auchincloss, Jim Costa and Andre Carson — sent a letter to the CEOs of the credit card giants Wednesday and blasted them for their complicity in the war.
“Belarus’s role in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is clear,” the letter, exclusively obtained by the Post, said. “American and Ukrainian officials assert that Belarus’s leadership has allowed Belarus to serve as one of the staging grounds for Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. Moreover, injured Russian troops have been evacuated to Belarusian hospitals. Belarus is as much at fault as Russia in this war.”
Mastercard and Visa, like many other major corporations, suspended business operations with Russia in early March — but the two have yet to take action against Belarus, whose dictator Alexander Lukashenko is known for being a bootlicker to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a good first step, but we believe more should be done,” wrote the pols, who are requesting a formal response from both companies by April 20. “We would note that on March 6th American Express announced that they would suspend operations in Russia and Belarus.”
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives almost unanimously passed legislation to revoke normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus. The lawmakers insisted in their letter that “the private sector can also play a significant role in addressing bad actors’ role in this unjustified war.”
The U.S. also renewed sanctions against Lukashenko and expanded them to include his family. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has blasted the Eastern European strongman’s “support and facilitation of the Russian Federation’s invasion.”
“The unprovoked and unjust invasion of Ukraine by Russia is among the gravest international crises in recent history,” the letter said. “We believe and strongly urge you to consider suspending your services in Belarus.”
Visa and Mastercard did not immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment.