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Russia Sanctions: What They Mean for International Students in Russia

Feb 28, 2022
Russia Sanctions

On February 24 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. This means that there are now lots of sanctions against Russia and its economy. Here's what it means for you as an international student in Russia.


The Russian Rouble is dropping in value fast. This means that your usual weekly budget won't go as far very soon.

You'll need to sit down and plan out a new budget. It will soon be difficult to import food to Russia, so expect prices to rise quickly. Make sure you're well stocked up on food in cans and packets, as well as bottled water.

Bank Cards

On February 27 2022, major Russian banks were disconnected from SWIFT. This means that it will become increasingly difficult to use bank cards across Russia. 

Even if you have a bank card from another country, it will become difficult to pay using it, as many card machines will be registered with Russia's major banks. Russia does have its own payment system, called Mir (you can find more info here in Russian), but this isn't used internationally. This also means that, if you have a Russian bank card, you won't be able to make payments for things like Netflix, Spotify and Apple Music. 

If you can, withdraw cash now. 

Apple Pay and Google Pay have also stopped working in Russia.

If you regularly receive money from abroad, it'll now be more difficult to get this into Russia, and collect it in cash.

The disconnection from SWIFT will make imports and exports much more complicated, so stock up on food and other essentials while you can. It will also become harder to pay your tuition fees, and other study costs, unless you can pay in cash.

On March 6 2022, Visa and MasterCard both suspended operations in Russia. This means that any Visa or MasterCard cards issued abroad will no longer in Russia. Those issued in Russia will no longer work abroad. You can read more here.

Air Travel

The EU and the UK have banned Russian flights from their airspace, as well as flights to and from Russia. This means that Belarus is the only European country where Russian airlines can operate to and from. The US and Canada have also banned Russian aircraft from their skies.

Flights to the UAE and China are still running, if you're looking to leave Russia.

Russia's border with Finland is still open for land travel. There's a train from St Petersburg to Helsinki. If you need a visa to enter the Schengen Area of the EU, you'll need to get one before heading to Finland. You can find the details of the Finnish Embassy in Moscow here

It's open from 9am to 5pm Monday - Friday Moscow time (GMT+3). 

Russia's borders with the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland are currently very difficult to cross, so it's best to aim for Finland.

If you want to leave Russia, or want to know more about how sanctions affect you, you can find your embassy or consulate here. Embassies and consulates in Russia are in the column on the left of this page.

Keystone Team


The Keystone Team is comprised of experienced educators and advisors dedicated to providing valuable resources and advice to students all over the world.