Binance, Kraken will only freeze Russian crypto traders if they’re sanctioned
Russian users of Binance who find themselves on sanctions lists will have their accounts frozen but top crypto exchange has ruled out blanket bans on local traders.
As reported by Reuters, the Cayman Islands-registered exchange says it’s “blocking accounts of those on the sanctions list (if they have Binance accounts) and ensuring that all sanctions are met in full.”
This means Binance won’t make any changes to its policies, so it’s business as usual.
Ukrainian vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov had requested crypto exchanges outright freeze Russian traders on Sunday.
Fedorov, who is also Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, on Saturday offered a “generous reward” for any information relating to digital wallets owned of Russian and Belarusian politicians.
“It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also to sabotage ordinary users,” he said.
Fedorov hopes to align the digital asset ecosystem with strict economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West over Putin’s invasion of its neighbour.
Concern has been raised that Moscow could skirt the sanctions — meant to punish and deter it from waging further war — via cryptocurrency.
However, Binance says it won’t unilaterally lock accounts belonging to innocent users. Supposedly, it would go against crypto’s ethos of financial freedom for all.
As noted by Reuters, Russia is a potentially major market for Binance. The platform announced in January that it planned to grow its operations in the country and neighboring states in light of the recently favorable regulatory climate.
Kraken joins Binance in refusing all-out Russian ban
Crypto aside, Federov has been appealing to US tech giants to help combat what he called Russia’s “outrageous aggression.”
Federov has contacted the likes of Netflix, Apple, Google, YouTube, and PayPal to ask them to restrict services to Russia.
“In 2022, modern technologies are one of the best response to tanks, rockets and missiles,” tweeted Federov.
“I’ve addressed to the biggest tech giants to support the sanctions for Russian Federation. We asked them to help us stop this outrageous aggression on our people!”
And he’s had some success. Meta (formerly Facebook) agreed to bar advertisements and monetization of four Russian state media accounts, including RIA news agency and gazeta.ru.
Moscow restricted access to Facebook from inside Russia in response.
Elon Musk also activated Starlink satellites over Ukraine. This means locals will be able to access the internet even if Russia destroys local comms links.
Crypto companies are seemingly less willing to go along with Federov’s requests.
Read more: [Weaponry and cyberwar: How Bitcoin funds anti-Russia efforts in Ukraine]
Like Binance, San Francisco-headquartered Kraken stopped short of a complete ban on Russian users.
On Monday, chief exec Jesse Powell announced via Twitter that the company “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so.”
Although, one crypto platform is playing ball. In-game item trading portal Dmarket announced it “ cut all relationships” with Russia and Belarus.
This includes barring all users from the two countries and removing the ruble from the platform. Dmarket describes itself as a “Ukrainian-born startup.”
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