Binance says no to ban on Russian users

By Raffaele Redi

But Binance is among the many companies to contribute to humanitarian aid - and crypto donations now exceed $50m

KYIV, UKRAINE - Feb. 25, 2022: A residential building damaged by enemy action in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, with firefighters at the scene                                 
While Russia’s propaganda is minimising the conflict, Ukraine is getting crypto support for the humanitarian effort – Photo: Shutterstock

As crypto donations to support Ukraine reportedly exceed $50m, the largest exchange platform, Binance, has excluded the possibility of banning its trading operations among Russian users.

While Ukraine undergoes its eighth day of invasion, donations of cryptocurrencies to non-governmental organisations and volunteers reached $51m (£38.2m) according to sources including Yahoo! Finance and Ethereum World News. 

However, the largest crypto exchange, Binance, said it did not intend to ban crypto trading in Russia as crypto exchanges were already complying with international sanctions.

Binance position on Russian crypto exchanges

This comes after Ukrainian Vice-Prime Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, asked all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users at the weekend. In a Tweet, he said: “It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also to sabotage ordinary users.”  

Binance’s management said the exchange wouldn’t “freeze millions of innocent users”, instead vowing it would “block Binance accounts of those on the sanctions list”.

Binance, which has been among the Western companies in talks with Russian crypto miners during the invasion, recently announced it would make a $10m humanitarian donation to Ukraine.

According to several experts, blocking Russian wallets is theoretically possible but difficult to do. A number of academics and crypto company representatives told Protocol such a move would require a joint effort among platforms and authorities to pinpoint IP addresses and the geolocation of servers. Meanwhile users could find workarounds. 

Alternatively, they believed Fedorov’s message could be acted on by hackers. 

Russia crypto event goes ahead 

Meanwhile in the heart of Russia, where propaganda is being broadcast across state news networks, the country’s main blockchain association met to discuss crypto mining.

Despite the ongoing conflict across the border, an event was hosted on Wednesday by the Russian Blockchain Association RAKIB in the city of Krasnoyarsk to focus on green crypto mining. A number of Russian crypto players were due to attend to discuss the development of cities around mining factories, mostly supported by Gazprom-associated petroleum gas.

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