Russian tourists in the UK could face being left stranded penniless after card giants Visa and MasterCard announced plans to enforce US sanctions on Russian banks.
Visitors and business travellers holding MasterCard or Visa credit and debit cards issued by a number of major Russia-based banks face the prospect of having their cards effectively cancelled without prior notice.
US-based Visa and MasterCard have restricted at least four Russian banks so far from accessing their global payment networks in order to comply with US sanctions against Russia after Crimea was formally annexed by Moscow on Friday.
The banks involved said card services simply stopped without warning and described the restrictions as 'unlawful'.
A number of as-yet unidentified individuals are also expected to be affected by the move.
But Russian president Vladimir Putin said the sanctions "would not have a serious bearing" on the country's financial stability.
READ MORE: UKRAINE CRISIS: TRAPPED FORCES ARE LEFT WITH AN IMPOSSIBLE DILEMMA IN CRIMEA AS RUSSIAN ENDGAME APPROACHES
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He said he will open an account at one of the affected banks in a show of solidarity with the lender, telling a meeting of Russia's Security Council: "I personally don't have an account there, but I certainly will open one on Monday".
Crimea referendum and independence
Crimea referendum and independence
1/14 Crimea Referendum
A man shows his shirt with the Russian emblem as he celebrates the results of the Crimean referendum at the Lenin Square in Simferopol
2/14 Crimea Referendum
An elderly retired Soviet Navy officer and his wife take a walk in Sevastopol the morning after the referendum
3/14 Crimea Referendum
A man plays accordion as people dance during celebrations in Sevastopol
4/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Russian flags as fireworks explode in the sky over Sevastopol following the announcement of the result of the referendum
5/14 Crimea Referendum
A member of a Ukrainian "Maidan" self-defense battalion takes part in training to qualify for service in the newly-created National Guard.
6/14 Crimea Referendum
Pro-Russian protesters hold a Russian, Crimean and Soviet flags during their rally at Lenin Square in Simferopol, Ukraine
7/14 Crimea Referendum
A member of the Crimean election commission waits for voters at the polling station in Belogorsk near Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
8/14 Crimea Referendum
Polling stations opened in Crimea for a referendum about whether the Ukrainian Black Sea region should join Russia. The vote has been widely condemned by Western governments, who call it illegal and have announced sanctions against Russia if it goes ahead. Thousands of unmarked forces, believed to be Russian, have appeared in Crimea after local Moscow-backed authorities asked Russia for protection against 'extremists' in the new Ukrainian leadership
9/14 Crimea Referendum
A lettering on the facade of the Council of Ministers building reads 'Spring in Crimea' in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
10/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Crimean flags at Lenin square in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
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A poster in Crimea presents a stark choice - Nazism, or Russia - to voters ahead of the referendum
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Protesters against Ukraine’s referendum gather in Simferopol
13/14 Crimea Referendum
Action stations: Preparations for today’s referendum in Simferopol, where Crimea will vote to become part of Russia
14/14 Crimea Referendum
Cossacks guard the regional parliament building in Simferopol during the Crimean referendum
A spokesman for Visa said: "The US Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on some Russian individuals and entities. In order to comply with US law, Visa International Service Association is required to suspend access to the Visa network for these sanctioned entities. Currently as of March 21, 2014 they include: Bank Rossiya, Sobinbank, SMP-Bank and Investcapitalbank."
MasterCard could not be reached for comment.
Additional reporting by Press AssociationReuse content