• Cryptocurrency is a ‘lifeline’ for ‘ordinary Russians.’ According to Coinbase CEO

  • Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong stated that the exchange will comply with US rules if a ban is required, but that crypto remains a lifeline for some Russian consumers.

    Armstrong clarified in a tweet on Friday why Coinbase will not proactively prohibit all Russian users from its platform:

    “Unless the law states differently, we believe everyone deserves access to fundamental financial services,” Armstrong added. “Now that their currency has crumbled, some ordinary Russians are utilizing cryptocurrency as a lifeline.” Many of them are likely to oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would harm them as well,” he contended.

    He also remarked that “some ordinary Russians are utilizing cryptocurrency as a lifeline now that their currency has crashed.” In response to any potential sanctions imposed by the US government on exchanges such as Coinbase, Armstrong stated that the platform will “of course follow those rules.”

    Binance and Kraken will also follow suit.

    Coinbase’s stance on US sanctions appears to be consistent with that of others, like Binance and Kraken, who have both indicated that, while they will not block all Russian users, they will nevertheless comply with any specific sanctions obligation that may arise.

    Coinbase is presently restricting transactions from IP addresses that may belong to sanctioned individuals or organisations.

    The US Treasury issued new laws, termed the ‘Russian Harmful Foreign Activities Sanctions Regulations,’ aimed primarily at limiting illicit Russian activity.

    The formation of the ‘KleptoCapture’ Task Force by Vice President Biden

    Following economic sanctions imposed on Russia in reaction to its invasion of Ukraine, several people, including President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, have urged for crypto exchanges to exclude Russian users.

    Other cryptocurrency leaders, however, including as Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, believe that excluding all Russian users would be “unethical.”

    Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden and his administration announced the formation of the ‘KleptoCapture’ Task Force with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) – an interagency task force dedicated to enforcing the ongoing sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures imposed by the US and its allies in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine.

    In addition to investigating and prosecuting sanctions violations, the task force will investigate and prosecute the usage of cryptocurrencies to circumvent restrictions or launder money. Armstrong believes that there isn’t a great possibility of Russian oligarchs attempting to dodge sanctions through cryptocurrency:

    “…[b]ecause it is an open ledger, attempting to steal large sums of money using cryptocurrency would be more traceable than using US dollars, cash, art, gold, or other assets,” Armstrong explained.

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