Crypto sanctions against Russia and Belarus — European Commission

The commission’s decision to exclude six Russian banks from the SWIFT cross-border payment network in February triggered the increase of penalties.

The European Commission has confirmed that cryptocurrency holdings will be subject to further penalties against Russia and Belarus in response to the Ukrainian military conflict.

The European Commission said in a statement Wednesday that member states had agreed to alter legislation to ensure “even more effectively” that Russian sanctions cannot be bypassed, including through Belarus. The commission defined crypto assets as “transferable securities,” noting that crypto-based loans and credit would be prohibited under these stringent financial measures.

The commission announced in February that it would suspend six Russian banks from the SWIFT cross-border payment network – steps that made no mention of cryptocurrency at the time. On March 14, the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee will also vote on a regulatory framework for crypto assets in the EU.

Both the US and the European Union have signaled that they may examine Russia’s potential use of digital money to circumvent sanctions that some have dubbed “economic warfare.” President Joe Biden of the United States signed an executive order on Wednesday requiring government agencies to coordinate and consolidate policy on a national framework for crypto, as well as explore the potential rollout of a central bank digital currency — the order made three references to the risks of circumventing sanctions.

Along with legislative action, private corporations ranging from fast food chain McDonald’s to major credit card companies such as Visa and Mastercard have indicated plans to reduce or eliminate operations in Russia and Belarus in response to the Ukraine crisis. Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, also announced Tuesday that it will be unable to accept payments from the two major credit cards issued in Russia as a result of the companies’ decision.

Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.

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