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Russia Could Use Cryptocurrency to Blunt the Force of U.S. Sanctions


The datacenter for BitRiver, which provides services for cryptocurrency mining in Bratsk, Russia.

Should it choose to evade sanctions, Russia has multiple cryptocurrency-related tools at its disposal, experts said. All it needs is to find ways to trade without touching the dollar.

Credit: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

When the United States barred Americans from doing business with Russian banks, oil and gas developers and other companies in 2014, after the country's invasion of Crimea, the hit to Russia's economy was swift and immense. Economists estimated that sanctions imposed by Western nations cost Russia $50 billion a year.

Since then, the global market for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets has ballooned. That's bad news for enforcers of sanctions, and good news for Russia.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration enacted fresh sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, aiming to thwart its access to foreign capital. But Russian entities are preparing to blunt some of the worst effects by making deals with anyone around the world willing to work with them, experts said. And, they say, those entities can then use digital currencies to bypass the control points that governments rely on — mainly transfers of money by banks — to block deal execution.

From The New York Times
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