Ukraine asks cryptocurrency firms to block Russian users

The request comes at a time when economic sanctions are sending shockwaves through the Russian banking system.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Ukraine has requested major cryptocurrency exchanges restrict the activities of Russian account holders.  

Mykhailo Fedorov, the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, tweeted the appeal on February 27, asking that "all major crypto exchanges block addresses of Russian users."

"It's crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also to sabotage ordinary users," Fedorov said. 

Economic sanctions and the upcoming exclusion of some Russian banks from the global SWIFT financial system have already prompted concerns of a cash run in Russia. But crypto companies have so far not agreed with the Ukrainian request to block all Russian users. 

A Binance spokesperson told Reuters that the cryptocurrency exchange is "blocking accounts of those on the sanctions list (if they have Binance accounts) and ensuring that all sanctions are met in full."

Binance has no plans to extend the ban to typical Russian account holders. 

Coinbase has refused the request and told Decrypt that "a unilateral and total ban would punish ordinary Russian citizens who are enduring historic currency destabilization as a result of their government's aggression against a democratic neighbor." However, the organization will comply with any future sanctions. 

Jesse Powell, the co-founder & CEO of the Kraken cryptocurrency trading post, went further in a Twitter thread to explain the firm's stance, in which the company "cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so." 

With that, he warned: "Russians should be aware that such a requirement could be imminent." Powell also said that foreign states, such as the United States, could impose such sanctions "as a weapon to turn the Russian populace against its government's policies."


DMarket, an NFT and metaverse platform originating from Ukraine, has taken a different stance. The startup says it has "cut all relationships with Russia and Belarus," now prohibits sign-ups from these countries, and has frozen the assets of "previously registered users" in these countries.  

Assets and skins have not been confiscated and remain in user accounts, but DMarket says "access to their use is currently limited." The Russian Ruble has also been removed from the platform. 

Fedorov applauded the decision, calling the organization "Nowadays Robin Hoods."


Cryptocurrency giants may not consider bans, but they are contributing to other efforts. Binance said it would donate $10 million to humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, and Crypto.com has made a $1 million donation to the Red Cross. 

"We urge our community to do what they can to support humanitarian efforts," Crypto.com said. 

In related news, Fedorov published a list of cryptocurrency wallet addresses for donations to Ukraine. According to blockchain analysis provider Elliptic, $24.6 million through over 26,000 cryptoasset donations has been raised at the time of writing. 

The organization says that the "majority" of donations have been made in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), but NFTs are also being handed over to Ukraine. 

It should be noted that fraudsters are attempting to cash in on the conflict. 

"Elliptic has identified a number of fraudulent crypto fundraising scams which are exploiting the current situation," the company says. 

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