- The EU has included crypto assets in the list of its sanctions against Russia and Belarus and doubled down on the SWIFT ban of Russian financial institutions.
- EU says that crypto falls into the category of transferrable assets and further added that loans and credit can be provided by any means, including crypto.
The debate on whether Russia could turn to crypto to move money as global sanctions continue to bite seems to be behind us as regulators move to curb any effort by the country to turn to Bitcoin. The latest is the EU, with the regional bloc announcing recently that it has added crypto assets to its sanctions against Russia and Belarus following the invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
In a statement this week, the EU revealed that it had toughened its measures against Russia and Belarus, with the latter choosing to go against most countries and support Russia in its aggression.
The regional bloc outlined:
For Belarus, the measures introduce SWIFT prohibitions similar to those in the Russia regime, clarify that crypto assets fall under the scope of “transferable securities” and further expand the existing financial restrictions by mirroring the measures already in place regarding Russia sanctions.
The ban on crypto comes at a time when there have been varying opinions on the role of crypto in the invasion. Some governments, including the U.S, have dismissed the possibility of Russians using crypto, saying that the blockchain’s transparent nature goes against their interests. Russian oligarchs are also worth tens of billions and would find it very inconvenient to move it all through crypto.
Some industry leaders have supported this view, led by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong. Recently, he made it clear that Coinbase doesn’t intend on blocking Russian users unless there were specific instructions by the U.S government to this effect.
Coinbase did, however, block 25,000 crypto addresses reportedly linked to Russian citizens.
Just a week ago, an EU official had told Reuters that they were probing if Russians were using crypto to evade sanctions.
“The increase in value of some of these assets may be a response to attempts to circumvent the sanctions. We are looking into this, but no decision has been taken,” the official said at the time.
In its latest move, the EU also noted that crypto could also be used in loans.
Finally, the EU confirmed the common understanding that loans and credit can be provided by any means, including crypto assets, as well as further clarified the notion of “transferable securities”, so as to clearly include crypto-assets, and thus ensure the proper implementation of the restrictions in place.