Binance won’t block Russian accounts after Ukraine request – Reuters

Binance cryptocurrency exchange logo displayed on a phone screen.

Jakub Porzycki | NurPhoto via Getty Images

Binance said on Monday it would not “unilaterally” freeze Russian user accounts, after Ukraine’s deputy prime minister called on major cryptocurrency exchanges to take such action.

“We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent user accounts,” a spokesperson for Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, told CNBC.

“Crypto is supposed to provide greater financial freedom for people around the world. Unilaterally deciding to deny people access to their crypto would defeat the very reason crypto exists. »

On Sunday, Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian deputy prime minister, asked major exchanges to block Russian user addresses.

“It is crucial not only to freeze addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users,” Fedorov said in a tweet.

Belarus is an ally of Russia.

Russia continues to attack major cities in Ukraine, but the country’s forces are said to have mostly repelled Russian advances.

The United States and the European Union have responded with sanctions targeting Russian banks, sovereign debt, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle and the leader himself. The Russian ruble plunged as a result.

Binance said it was “taking necessary steps to ensure we take action against those who have had sanctions imposed while minimizing the impact on innocent users.”

“If the international community expands these sanctions further, we will also apply them aggressively,” added a spokesperson for the company.

Binance said it would block the accounts of anyone on the sanctions lists and “ensure that all sanctions are fully adhered to”.

CNBC has also contacted other major cryptocurrency exchanges to ask if they would freeze Russian user accounts, but has yet to receive a response.

Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken, another major cryptocurrency exchange, said on Twitter on Monday that the company “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian customers without a legal obligation to do so.”

However, Dmarket, a platform that allows people to trade virtual in-game items, said it had cut “all relations with Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine”. , in a statement on Twitter.

The company said that users from Russia and Belarus were barred from registering on Dmarket and the accounts of users from those countries had been frozen. The Russian ruble was removed from the platform, according to Dmarket, which called itself a “start-up of Ukrainian origin”.

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Binance won’t block Russian accounts after Ukraine request – Reuters