Following Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, Belarusian crypto exchange Currency.com said in a blog post published on April 12, that it will restrict its services to Russian users.
Currency.com states in a blog post:
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought violence and disorder to the people of Ukraine. We condemn Russian aggression in the strongest possible terms. We stand with Ukraine and everyone who denounces this terrible war. In these circumstances, we can no longer continue to serve our clients from Russia.”
📢 https://t.co/utaDc9wnIa halts operations for residents of the Russian Federation (Russia). Clients from other countries and regions will not be impacted by this decision.
— Currency.com (@CurrencyCom) April 12, 2022
According to sources, Currency.com was founded and registered in the Belarusian capital Minsk in 2018. The company’s headquarters have now been relocated to Gibraltar, while it maintains offices in Minsk, Warsaw, Poland, and New York, USA. It is largely focused on supplying the Eastern European markets.
People accuse Belarus of assisting Russia
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, most countries throughout the world placed harsh sanctions on both Russia and Belarus. Even assets belonging to the Russian central bank have been blocked or seized in the Russian case. The two neighbouring nations, as well as their leaders, are close allies, and many accuse Belarus of assisting Russia by allowing them to strike Ukraine from Belarusian territory.
Until now, most cryptocurrency exchanges have been reluctant to prohibit ordinary Russian users. US officials have advised cryptocurrency businesses not to assist Russia as a government or sanctioned individuals.
According to Deputy US Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, anyone who tries to help Russia in evading economic sanctions would face consequences from the US government.
“What we want to make very clear to crypto exchanges, to financial institutions, to individuals, to anyone who may be in a position to help Russia take advantage and evade our sanctions: We will hold you accountable.”
Sanctions, however, do not apply to ordinary Russians who are not named on any sanctions lists. As the ruble has crashed and millions of individuals have lost their life savings, some Russians are turning to cryptocurrency as a lifeline.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said last month in a series of tweets:
“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.”
This attitude has been echoed by Kraken CEO Jesse Powell and Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, two other large cryptocurrency exchanges. Western politicians have increasingly focused on the use of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) to avoid sanctions. However, this notion has been debunked by a number of experts and observers, including comprehensive research by Chainalysis.
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