The European Commission has clarified that cryptocurrency assets will be subject to additional sanctions against Russia and Belarus in response to the military conflict in Ukraine.
In a statement on Wednesday, the European Commission said member states had agreed to amend the rules to “even more effectively ensure that Russian sanctions cannot be circumvented, including through Belarus.” The Commission said that crypto assets fall under the category of “transferable securities”, adding that loans and credits made using crypto will not be allowed under these restrictive financial measures.
We are further tightening the sanctions network in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine • List includes 160 people: oligarchs, members of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation • Banking sector of Belarus • Export of maritime navigation technologies to Russia • Addition of crypto assets – Ursula von der Leyen (@fonderleien) March 9, 2022
The expansion of the sanctions followed the commission’s announcement in February of the removal of several Russian banks from the SWIFT cross-border payment network, measures that at the time did not specify how to handle cryptocurrencies. The European Parliament’s Committee on Economics and Monetary Affairs is also preparing to vote on the regulatory framework for cryptocurrency assets in the EU on March 14.
Both the United States and the European Union have hinted that they are considering Russia using the digital currency to evade sanctions, in what some are calling “economic warfare.” U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Wednesday that would require government agencies to coordinate and consolidate policy on the nation’s cryptocurrency structure and explore the deployment of a central bank digital currency — the executive order mentions the risks of circumventing sanctions three times.
See also: Cryptocurrency does not give Russia a way out of Western sanctions
In addition to the legislators’ actions, private businesses from McDonald’s fast food chain to major credit card companies including Visa and Mastercard have announced that they will reduce or shut down their operations in Russia and Belarus entirely in response to the the situation with Ukraine. Cryptocurrency exchange Binance also said on Tuesday that it will no longer be able to accept payments from two major credit cards issued in Russia due to the companies’ decision.