Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Says His Company Won’t Ban All Russian Users Account

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As the Russian-Ukraine war intensifies, some crypto exchanges have acted per the US sanctions against Russia to ban user accounts belonging to Russian citizens, including Vladimir Putin and the defense minister. However, coinbase has joined two other leading crypto exchanges, Binance and Kraken, to announce that their Russian customers won’t be restricted from accessing their accounts.

The CEO of coinbase, Brian Armstrong, affirmed the above position of the company amidst pressures from the US government authorities on US crypto exchanges to ban Russian accounts. The US fears that Russia might use crypto to evade economic sanctions against them.

In defiance of the instructions of the US authorities, Brian wrote that his company could not ban Russians from using coinbase because he believes the Russians also deserve access to essential financial services, except the law directs otherwise. He added that not all Russians support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, thus imposing a ban on the unsuspecting customers will hurt them too. Lastly, the CEO reminded the US that so many Russians were trading crypto as a support base upon the collapse of the Russian ruble.

Russian Oligarchs to be Banned

Brian maintained that irrespective of the class of an asset, be it gold, equity, or crypto, US companies need to be cautious not to provoke US financial regulators. In that light, the Coinbase CEO reiterated the company’s commitment to be law-abiding; but noted that instead of a total ban, transactions from IP addresses that belong to internationally sanctioned individuals and organizations would be blocked by coinbase.

The CEO added that though sanctions are complex and the circumstances are fast-changing, the company will keep force with government agencies and law enforcement agents and will only act according to the provisions of the law. He sympathized with Ukrainians and revealed that coinbase would upgrade their crypto services in the war-torn area to help those are in need.

Russia May Use Crypto to Evade US Sanctions

Overtime, the US has expressed worries that Russia might use crypto to evade economic and financial sanctions against it. Since the escalation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US and the European Union have imposed strict economic and financial sanctions on Russia; these sanctions are meant to discourage Russia from the further offensive against Ukraine.

On Monday, a US senator, Elizabeth Warren, tweeted that cryptocurrencies might serve as an escape route for Russia to evade US strict economic sanctions, which has created an unfavorable economic environment for the Russian economy. To avoid the possibility of such evasion, the senator beckoned on the US financial regulators to scrutinize digital currencies and assets.

Brian said that there is a slight risk involved if Russia decides to use crypto to evade sanctions on the above claim. He noted that crypto is a traceable open ledger than the US dollars, cash, or gold. 

Irrespective of the above explanation by the coinbase boss, the US authorities have encouraged US-based crypto exchanges to ban Russian user accounts from their respective platforms. In response to the call to ban, OpenSea – an Ethereum-based NFT marketplace, has banned some Russian users from its network.


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