The European Union is cutting off high-value crypto services to Russia in a fresh wave of sanctions designed to cripple the country’s economy.
The EU today introduced a fifth tranche of measures to put economic pressure on Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. The European Commission will halt Russian coal imports, freeze the assets of four major Russian banks, ban financial advisors assisting wealthy Russian and prohibit the provision of high value crypto asset services in order to “close loopholes” allowing sanctions evasion.
“Together with the four previous packages, these sanctions will further contribute to ramping up economic pressure on the Kremlin and cripple its ability to finance its invasion of Ukraine,” the European commission said in a statement.
“These measures are broader and sharper, so that they cut even deeper into the Russian economy,” the statement continued.
Crypto assets have come under scrutiny amid the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. While digital assets have proved a boon for the Ukrainian government and humanitarian groups, which have raised over $100m in crypto donations since the onset of the invasion, it has also offered a potential means for Russians to circumvent sanctions.
The UK’s financial watchdog and Bank of England jointly wrote to crypto asset firms last month urging service providers to ensure sanctions are imposed effectively.
The Secretary for the US Treasury, Janet Yellen this week confirmed the government is “monitoring for any attempts to use cryptocurrency to evade sanctions.” She added that the Office of Foreign Asset Control and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are working to target crypto exchanges facilitating Russian cyber crime.