European Commission stresses Russian sanctions apply to crypto

EU freezes relations with Belarus' central bank and three largest lenders

European Commission building                                 
EU cracks down further on Russia and Belarus - Photo: Shutterstock
                                

The European Commission has stressed the economic sanctions introduced in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cover cryptocurrencies.

EU Commission

The executive body of the European Union (EU) stated: “For Belarus, the measures introduce SWIFT prohibitions similar to those in the Russia regime, clarify that crypto assets fall under the scope of ‘transferable securities’ and further expand the existing financial restrictions by mirroring the measures already in place regarding Russia sanctions.”

The Commission also “confirmed the common understanding that loans and credit can be provided by any means, including crypto assets, as well as further clarified the notion of ‘transferable securities,’ so as to clearly include crypto assets, and thus ensure the proper implementation of the restrictions in place.”

Belarus

In a fresh wave of sanctions on Wednesday, the EU froze relations with Belarus’ central bank and the nation’s three largest lenders.

It also blacklisted 14 further business figures with links to the Russian and Belarusian governments. In total, the EU has now applied restrictive measures to 862 individuals in Russia and Belarus, including 146 members of the upper house of the Russian Parliament.

Belarusian nationals and residents are to be prevented from transferring deposits exceeding 100 to EU banks and will no longer be able to purchase euro-denominated securities.

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The EU’s high representative for foreign policy, Joseph Borrell, said the additional sanctions will send a “strong message”, adding: “We are closing the loopholes of our existing sanctions and imposing further measures on Belarus’s financial sector.”

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Trading

While trading of the Russian rouble resumed partly on Wednesday, the Moscow Stock Exchange had remained closed for a fortnight. In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion, the MOEX Russia Index sank by 33% in a day, wiping off $189bn in value.

Although the economic measures enacted by Western nations, such as the banning of oil and gas imports from Russia, will primarily affect Russians, there is growing anxiety of potential blowback on Western investors, particularly energy ETFs with Russian exposure.

The London Stock Exchange, Euronext, Deutsche Boerse and Borsa Italiana have all suspended trading on several Russian ETFs.

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