Hagerty, Colleagues Urge Administration to Sanction Russia’s National Credit Payment System

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Mike Rounds (R-SD), have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury urging the Biden Administration to extend sanctions against Russia’s National Credit Payment System (NSPK). 

“The Russian government established NSPK in 2014 after Russian forces seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, amidst Moscow’s concern that it would be cut off from international payment systems. The NSPK has a card brand known as Mir. Since Mir is interoperable with international payment brands, it poses the potential for sanctions circumvention through its ability to process transactions from other payment networks over the NSPK rails,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators note that currently, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam accept Mir payments and that Mir is also accepted in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

“In response, the administration should both apply sanctions or other restrictive measures to the Russian central bank’s NSPK payment system, and review whether UnionPay’s or any other bank or network is helping Russia evade sanctions, so that sanctions may be applied,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. Adeyemo:

We are writing to respectfully request that the administration extend the application of sanctions against the Central Bank of the Russian Federation to target the National Card Payment System (NSPK) operated by that central bank.  

In early March, credit card networks Visa, Mastercard, and American Express suspended operations in Russia in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.  The Russian government established NSPK in 2014 after Russian forces seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, amidst Moscow’s concern that it would be cut off from international payment systems. The NSPK has a card brand known as Mir.  Since Mir is interoperable with international payment brands, it poses the potential for sanctions circumvention through its ability to process transactions from other payment networks over the NSPK rails.

While Mir has mostly been used for bank transfers related to welfare or pension payments, it does have an international footprint, and Russia has been eager to bring other countries into the Mir system since its inception.  Currently, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam accept Mir payments.  Mir payments are also accepted in the Russian-occupied Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

China’s UnionPay – an international payment system that received international status in 2005 and can be used for payments worldwide – may be providing Mir a lifeline. Numerous Russian banks, including Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, have indicated they may issue Mir-UnionPay co-badged cards.  Other Russian banks already work with the Chinese UnionPay payment system, including Gazprombank, Bank St. Petersburg, Promsvyazbank, and others. 

In response, the administration should both apply sanctions or other restrictive measures to the Russian central bank’s NSPK payment system, and review whether UnionPay’s or any other bank or network is helping Russia evade sanctions, so that sanctions may be applied. 

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We look forward to receiving your response. 

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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