Crypto offers Russia no way out from Western sanctions

With the concerns of Janet Yellen and Hillary Clinton notwithstanding, there isn’t enough cryptocurrency in the world to bail out Russia from the economic hole which it now finds itself to be settling into. Even if there were a large enough supply, it probably wouldn’t enable the state to escape the scourge of a Western embargo.

As David Carlisle, director of policy and regulatory affairs at Elliptic, told Cointelegraph: “It’s critical to keep in mind that even where nefarious actors attempt to use crypto, law enforcement can trace this activity owing to its transparency, and crypto businesses can use solutions such as blockchain analytics to comply with sanctions requirements.”

Despite Clinton’s worries that the largest crypto exchanges aren’t doing enough to shut Russia’s possible escape hatch, it isn’t even clear that Russia’s political and business elite are actually even looking for a cryptocurrency solution.

“Will Russia try to work around sanctions? Yes,” Matthew Le Merle, cofounder and managing partner of Blockchain Coinvestors, told Cointelegraph, but they won’t use crypto to do it. They’ll find other means through the already established (incumbent) global financial system — like the offshore entities and tax havens revealed in the 2016 Panama Papers.

Digital currencies are simply not a good way for Russian oligarchs and sanctions-evading institutions to move money. “You’d be a fool to use Bitcoin if you were a bad actor,” added Le Merle. With the clustering technologies and analytics capacity that the U.S. government and other enforcement agencies have today, “They know how to come after you.”

Recent events raised a slew of crypto-related questions — albeit overshadowed by the immense human tragedy unfolding in Europe, its most dire since the Bosnian War, if not WWII. Would the Russian government, along with its financial institutions, high officials and oligarchs, seek relief from Western sanctions relief in crypto and, if so, would it work?

If Russia’s ruling elites were to find haven in decentralized digital currencies — another black eye for crypto’s…



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