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Reality Hits: Crypto Bends to Anti-Russian Sanctions

by Luis Miguel

Reprinted with permission from

The Russia-Ukraine conflict has put cryptocurrencies’ libertarian principles to the test, as major exchanges have begun to comply with sanctions on Russia despite rhetoric claiming they would not interfere with the ostensibly free, borderless digital financial system.

Last month, Ukraine asked exchanges to freeze any accounts belonging to Russians. Major exchanges defiantly refused. A spokesperson for the U.S.-based exchange Coinbase said:

“At this time, we will not institute a blanket ban on all Coinbase transactions involving Russian addresses. Instead, we will continue to implement all sanctions that have been imposed, including blocking accounts and transactions that may involve sanctioned individuals or entities.”

“Our mission is to increase economic freedom in the world,” the spokesperson went on. “A unilateral and total ban would punish ordinary Russian citizens who are enduring historic currency destabilization as a result of their government’s aggression against a democratic neighbor. We remain vigilant as this invasion evolves and are deeply committed to playing our part.”

“To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists,” said a spokesperson for Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange.

Johnny Lyu, CEO of the crypto exchange KuCoin, similarly told CNBC that the company considered itself “a neutral platform” that would not do anything beyond what is legally required, adding it didn’t support “actions that increase” tensions.

Despite the public declarations, the exchanges have been quietly implementing the sanctions. Read Full Article >

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