Coinbase Says It Won’t Block All Russian Users From Accessing Crypto Services

The leading American cryptocurrency exchange said it would not block the accounts of all Russian users on its platform.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said on Friday that many Russians are against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that crypto serves as a life saver for ordinary citizens in the country during these tough times.

“Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too. That said, if the US government decides to impose a ban, we will of course follow those laws,” Armstrong explained

However, the Coinbase chief noted that the exchange will always follow regulations like every other regulated financial services company in the United States and that is why it screens users who sign up on its platform and blocks transactions from IP addresses of sanctioned individuals.

Armstrong noted that since sanctions are a complicated matter, Coinbase will continue to work with regulators.

“Sanctions are a complex issue, and the situation is changing fast, so we’ll keep working with law enforcement and governments, and will take more steps as needed. We’ll also of course keep working to enable crypto services for the people of Ukraine who are in need of help,” he added.

As Russia continues to mount aggression against Ukraine, global leaders including the United States, European Union (EU), the United Kingdom (UK) and others have placed financial sanctions on Russia in a bid to weaken its access to funds which it can use to empower its military.

However, there is speculation that Russia could leverage the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies to bypass such sanctions. As a result, global regulators are now calling on crypto exchanges to block Russians from accessing crypto services.

Major crypto exchanges like Binace and Kraken have disagreed with freezing accounts of all Russian users, noting that crypto is meant to provide better financial freedom for individuals, and that they will only make such a move if there are legal requirements to do so.

But exchanges in South Korea, including Upbit, Gopax, Bithumb, and Korbit, do not share the same sentiments. Fresh reports today alleged that these trading platforms have started complying with regulators, thereby blocking IP addresses from Russia.