Russia Won’t Be Using Cryptocurrencies to Stave Off Sanctions

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A recent story about Iran implementing policies to adopt cryptocurrencies and use digital assets to pay for some imports in an effort to counteract western sanctions made many believe that this trend could continue across the globe. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the eastern behemoth has been heavily sanctioned by many western nations and even multinational corporations decided to stop providing their services in the Russian territory until the situation in Ukraine is not resolved.

The Russians should have used crypto

One of the biggest risks of imposing sanctions was the possibility of the Russian government using cryptocurrencies to launder their money and purchase US dollars on underregulated markets by tumbling different tokens across multiple exchanges and using ghost wallets. It is the method that was used by some hackers.

This theory was initially supported by a surge in cryptocurrency trading involving the ruble right after the offensive was launched on the western border of Russia. However, by April the trading volume dropped from a massive 6.6 billion rubles to just 1 billion. It has not recovered much since indicating that the country is not interested in using cryptocurrencies as a medium for their financial operations.

Instead, the Russian government decided to push for SPFR (their version of SWIFT) adoption among their trade partners. While not exactly successful, it was still moderately well accepted by countries that want to have access to commodities produced by Russia. Belarus, Iran, India, China, Armenia, and other countries are already using the MIR payment system (analogous to VISA or MasterCard) with Turkey being one of the most recent additions to the group of SPFR users.

The crypto debate is still ongoing in the international arena

Experts think that cryptocurrency requires more regulations and oversight, but the Iranian example shows that it is a medium that provides freedom and flexibility. The very fact that many countries can avoid international sanctions by using crypto is a good indicator that it has many merits. However, if important participants of the global economy like Russia won’t join the party, the confidence of enthusiasts may start withering.


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