The White House’s next move against Vladimir Putin may mean sanctions on Russia’s access to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, the Wall Street Journal reported.
In a February 26 report, the Journal cited an official who said the US is considering novel sanctions against Russia’s crypto market in response to the country’s attack on Ukraine. The possible move could follow sanctions the Biden administration has inflicted so far on Russia that targeted President Putin, his inner circle, and the country’s financial system.
The White House did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on possible crypto sanctions. To the Journal, an official said any sanctions on Russia’s access to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies would need to avoid wrecking the crypto market as a whole. Those sanctions, the Journal noted, would likely target crypto exchanges that violate bans against transacting with blacklisted Russian banks.
As Western sanctions increasingly squeeze Russia’s financial system and hit the ruble, demand for cryptocurrency has jumped in the country. Trading volumes between the ruble and bitcoin soared to 1.5 billion rubles on Thursday, hitting the highest level in nine months, according to Coindesk, which cited data from crypto research firm Kaiko.
Russia, which is the third largest bitcoin mining nation, has wavered in the past on its crypto adoption. Most notably, the country’s central bank proposed a sweeping ban on crypto activity and mining earlier this year.
Troubles in Eastern Europe escalated last week when Russia launched a full-scale invasion against Ukraine. The war has prompted thousands of civilians to flee Ukraine as the country’s defense has stalled Russian efforts. Russia’s attack has prompted broad Western sanctions that have crushed the Russian ruble and rattled markets.
As for bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization rose less than a percent Monday to $38,016 as delegations from Russia and Ukraine met for talks in Belarus. Amid escalating tensions in Eastern Europe and planned rate hikes from the US central bank, bitcoin has slumped about 20% so far this year.
The article originally published on Business Insider.