Uzbekistan halts use of Russia's Mir payment cards

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: CEO of Russian National Payment Card System (NSPK) Vladimir Komlev attends a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 16, 2022. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

TASHKENT (Reuters) – Uzbekistan’s UZCARD system has suspended the processing of payments via Mir cards issued by Bank of Russia’s National Card Payment System (NSPK), the chief executive of which has been targeted by U.S. sanctions.

The move by UZCARD was warranted by the need “to carry out the necessary technical procedures”, it said in a statement on Friday.

Sobirjon Mahmudov, head of public relations at UZCARD, said the decision had nothing to do with sanctions.

“The technical maintenance procedures are being carried out by our Uzbek partner bank which carries out payments, and it asked us to halt temporarily the payment processes due to their maintenance works.”

NSPK Chief Executive Vladimir Komlev declined to comment on UZCARD’s announcement.

Russia has promoted Mir as an alternative to Visa (NYSE:) and MasterCard, which shut off their Russian networks after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February.

The United States last week issued sanctions against NSPK’s Komlev, saying it was seeking to hold the Russian government accountable for its Feb. 24 invasion and continuing war against Ukraine.

Shortly afterwards, Turkish banks Denizbank and Isbank suspended the use of Mir.