- Both cryptocurrency exchanges stand firm in the belief that not all Russians should be banned from trading crypto on their accounts.
- However, they are unwilling to stand up to western governments that have resorted to financial sanctions to pressure a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
Crypto exchanges Binance and Coinbase Global Inc. have stated that they will not ban Russians from the use of their platforms despite concerns of Russia using crypto to circumvent the financial sanctions placed upon the country in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
The stance of the two largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world could derail the attempts being made by NATO and its allies to isolate and weaken Russia to force it to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and complete withdrawal from occupied Ukrainian territory.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong asserted through several tweets on Friday that "everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise."
Armstrong justified his position by saying:
“Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too."
However, he later clarified that “if the US government decides to impose a ban, we will of course follow those laws.”
A spokesman for Binance explained to Reuters that for their part:
"We are not going to unilaterally freeze the accounts of millions of innocent users." Although the crypto exchange of Chinese origin, had already said that it would comply with the sanctions approved by governments if they ask for it."
Exchange Response to the Ukrainian Government
Both Coinbase and Binance had stated that had no plans to freeze the accounts of Russian users after the Ukrainian government initially asked major crypto exchanges to shut down financial operations in the invading country.
Among the sanctions imposed by the United States, the United Kingdom and the other western countries in response to Russia’s invasion and incessant bombardment across Ukraine, is the disconnection of major Russian banks from the SWIFT international payment system.
A temporary ceasefire had been announced on Thursday to evacuate civilians from parts of Ukraine. However, missile strikes continued, including the bombing of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant. In response to the emergency, firefighters managed to extinguish the flames and radioactivity levels are reportedly normal.
On the Flipside
- The use of cryptocurrencies to evade Western sanctions is one of the concerns raised by a section of Democratic U.S. senators led by Elizabeth Warren.
- They have called on Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to ensure that digital assets do not become a lifeline for Vladimir Putin’s government in evading sanctions.