The European Commission has clarified that crypto 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 regulations with the aim of ensuring “even more effective prevention of circumvention of Russian sanctions, including through Belarus”. The committee said crypto assets fall under the scope of “transferable securities”, adding that loans and credits made using crypto are not allowed as part of these restrictive financial measures.
We continue to tighten the net of sanctions in response to Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine
•Enumeration of 160 persons: oligarchs, members of the Council of the Russian Federation
•Belarusian banking sector
•Export of maritime navigation technology to Russia
•Add crypto assets
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) March 9, 2022
The extension of the sanctions follows the committee’s announcement in February that it would remove several Russian banks from the SWIFT cross-border payment network — measures that at the time did not specify how crypto should be handled. The European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs is also preparing to vote on a regulatory framework for crypto assets in the EU on March 14.
Both the United States and the European Union have hinted that they would look to Russia possibly using digital currencies to evade sanctions that some have described as “economic warfare.” On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden signed an executive order that will require government agencies to coordinate and consolidate policies on a national framework for crypto, and to investigate the potential rollout of a central bank digital currency — the order stated the risks of circumventing sanctions three times.
Related: Crypto Offers Russia No Way Out of Western Sanctions
In addition to measures taken by lawmakers, private companies, from fast-food chain McDonald’s to major credit card companies, including Visa and Mastercard, have announced they will either phase out in Russia and Belarus or completely shut down operations in both countries in response to the situation with Ukraine. Crypto exchange Binance also said on Tuesday that it would no longer be able to accept payments from the two major credit cards issued in Russia due to the companies’ decision.