Binance issues further restrictions on Russian customers

However, crypto exchange’s new stance will not affect all accounts held by Russians

Binance mobile app running on a smartphone screen with a trading page at background                                 
Crypto exchange Binance has stepped up restrictions on Russian account holders after further EU sanctions – Photo: Alamy
                                

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has limited its services to Russian nationals, people living in Russia or legal entities established in the country.

This news comes after the European Union (EU) imposed a fifth package of restrictions against Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. The restrictions will apply to Russian individuals or companies that have crypto assets exceeding €10,000 ($10,923, £8,364).

Accounts that fall under these rules will be placed on withdrawal-only status – meaing individuals or businesses will not be able to make deposits or trades with their Binance accounts. The new limit also covers all spot, futures, custody wallets, and staked and earned deposits.

Not all Russians will be affected

Russian nationals who do not live in Russia and have completed a proof-of-address verification, along with Russian nationals or legal entities in Russia that hold crypto assets below €10,000 will not be affected by these rules.

Binance believes that other major crypto exchanges should follow the procedures that it has put in place.

Hillary Clinton ‘disappointed’ with crypto exchanges

In March 2022, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton criticised crypto exchanges that had refused to place a ban on all Russian users.

On 27 February, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, also the country’s Minister of Digital Transformation tweeted a request asking all “major crypto exchanges” to block addresses of Russian users.

Clinton told MSNBC on 1 March that she “was disappointed to see that some of the so-called crypto exchanges, not all of them, but some of them are refusing to end transactions with Russia for some philosophy of libertarianism or whatever”.

She said everyone should do “as much as possible” to isolate Russia economically, adding: “That pressure will absolutely impact Putin. I think the [US] Treasury Department and the Europeans should look at how they can prevent the crypto markets from giving an escape hatch to Russia.”

At the time, Binance took a similar approach as Coinbase and agreed to block Russian clients targeted by sanctions but not to freeze all accounts held by Russians. Meanwhile, Kraken stated it “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so”.

However, Binance has now stepped up its restrictions regarding Russian account holders.

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