Russian finance ministry rejects crypto as a means of payment

The head of Russia's financial policy department dismisses the idea that it could use cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions

The Bitcoin logo on a Russian flag                                 
Russia’s Central Bank has softened its crypto stance recently – Photo: Shutterstock

The Russian finance ministry has rejected suggestions that it could accept cryptocurrency as a means of payment for oil. 

The war in Ukraine, and the sanctions subsequently imposed on Russia by Western nations, have prompted the Russian government to explore less orthodox means by which to conduct international trade. 

Chebeskov’s comments

According to Russian news outlet RTVI, Ivan Chebeskov, the head of the ministry’s financial policy department, told reporters that under current proposals, cryptocurrencies will be employed as an asset and will be accepted in the context of barter transactions. 

Rejecting their use as a more general means of payment, Chebeskov stated: “The task is to provide an alternative, and not to say that Russia is now paying for everything with crypto. This is not about state settlements but private business only.”

Adding that oil will likely not be sold for Bitcoin due to large export volumes, Chebeskov stated: “It has become more difficult to make settlements in dollars and euros. Someone will not want to switch to national currencies – it is not possible with all countries.”

Western sanctions

Referring to US concerns that Russia could attempt to skirt sanctions by using cryptocurrencies, Chebeskov observed: “Why do Americans say they will try to block? Because in fact, all public cryptocurrencies are quite easy to track. It’s a myth that they are very opaque.”

Central bank’s stance mellows

In the months before the war, the finance ministry often found itself at loggerheads with Russia’s central bank over cryptocurrency regulation. The former called for the industry to be regulated and encouraged under the oversight of state regulators, while the latter pushed for an outright ban. 

The sanctions regime imposed in the wake of the invasion has softened the central bank’s hostility, with governor Elvira Nabiullina suggesting that cryptocurrencies can be employed for international payments as long as they do not “penetrate” the Russian financial system.

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