Russian PM hails digital assets as path to financial autonomy

Sanctions seem to have prompted a shift in Russian government’s attitude to digital assets

Russian PM                                 
Mishustin has called for collaboration between Russia’s government and central bank – Photo: Shutterstock

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has hailed digital assets as a means by which the embattled nation could strengthen its financial independence. 

Speaking during a strategic session on the development of the domestic financial system, the senior politician said

“We need to intensively develop innovative areas, including the introduction of digital assets. This is a safe alternative for all parties that can guarantee uninterrupted payment for the supply of goods from abroad and for export.”

The comment is the latest in a line of conflicting statements from prominent Russian state figures regarding digital assets. 

Central bank battles with the finance ministry

The Bank of Russia started 2022 by calling for an outright ban of cryptocurrency trading, services and mining, describing the sector as volatile and a threat to national sovereignty. 

In contrast, the country’s finance ministry has pushed ahead with legislation that would regulate cryptocurrencies in a similar manner to foreign currencies, affording greater oversight to the central bank and other state institutions. 

Alluding to this division, Mishustin stated: “Joint efforts of the government and the Bank of Russia should be aimed at developing effective tools that meet the challenges of the new time.”

He added: “I propose to talk in detail about measures that will transform existing institutions and ensure the stability of the financial system in current realities, to develop effective solutions.”

Anxiety that Russia could skirt sanctions via digital assets

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, increased attention has been paid, both at home and abroad, to Russian attitudes to digital assets. 

US-led sanctions have led to a number of crypto miners from Western nations ending operations in Siberia. 

Prominent figures, such as European Central Bank chair Christine Lagarde, have stressed the need for effective regulation to ensure that the Russian government does not skirt sanctions by using digital currencies. 

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