Russian President Vladimir Putin says Russia is developing its own national credit card system so his countrymen do not have to rely on financing from Western companies.
Putin said Thursday that Russia's central bank and the government are exploring a new payment system that he compared to ones that exist inside China and Japan. Creation of a Russian finance system could reduce the possible fallout from economic sanctions the West has imposed on Russian business and political leaders in the aftermath of Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
The Russian leader's announced intentions came days after two U.S. credit card companies, Visa and MasterCard, temporarily blocked their transactions at Moscow banks.
The U.S. finance companies said they they were forced to take the action because of U.S. sanctions imposed on the owners of the banks to protest Russia's takeover of Crimea. But the credit firms quickly resumed business in Russia when the U.S. said the sanctions were not aimed at the banks, but rather the bank officials, many of them friends of Putin.
The U.S. and European Union have condemned Russia's annexation of Crimea and say they will stiffen their sanctions against Moscow if it advances farther into Ukraine. The world's leading economies have removed Russia from the Group of 8 and say they will not attend a planned June summit in Sochi, Russia, site of the recent Winter Olympics.