• ‘In Marbella there are a lot of situations where the father works in Russia and the mother and children live in Spain permanently, and he transfers money to the account in Spain’

By Andrew Atkinson

Credit cards have been blocked and bank transfers stopped for Russians living in Malaga province, including Marbella, due to sanctions on Russian banks following the war crisis in the Ukraine.

The sanctions following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has lead to Russians on the Costa del Sol, who hold their money in Russian banks, transferring enough money to their Spanish account to live on, being jeopardised.

They can no longer use their credit cards – or other forms of payment – including Apple Pay or Google Pay, or transfer money from Russian accounts to Spanish ones.

The National Institute of Statistics, reported in 2021, 7,379 Russians were registered as living in Malaga province, of which 2,800 were in Marbella.

“In Marbella, we have a lot of situations where the father works in Russia and the mother and children live here permanently, and he transfers money to the account in Spain,” said Svetlana Ciliuta, President of Nash Dom, the biggest association of Russian speakers on the Costa del Sol.

“People are in a panic because they can’t pay their bills,” said Ciliuta.

Remedios Bocanegra, the councillor for Foreign Residents in Marbella, said Russian business owners are also very concerned and that the measure is going to have a significant effect on the local economy.

“We have a high level of Russian residential tourism here. A lot of Russian children attend international schools; how are they going to pay the school fees, and how are they going to pay their household expenses?” she said.

The Director of financial studies at Funcas, Santiago Carbó, warns that one big mistake people make is to simply look at numbers to assess the economic impact of the Ukrainian situation.

“The big spectre is still inflation. The rouble is at rock bottom and banking channels have short-circuited.

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