Cryptocurrency prices higher as world governments try to block Russia from using crypto to bypass sanctions

Selina Johansson

Cryptocurrency was surging early Tuesday morning with both Bitcoin and Ethereum reporting percentage hikes in double digits and Dogecoin up more than 7.25%.

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At 4:30 a.m., Bitcoin was trading at around $43,390, up a whopping 13.23%, while Ethereum was worth slightly above $2,900 (up 10.53%) and Dogecoin at 13.25 cents, respectively, according to Coindesk.

Washington is considering a novel area for possible further sanctions against Russia: cryptocurrencies.

Targeting the country’s access to cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, would take sanctions policy into uncharted territory. Blocking transactions would be challenging, since by nature private, digital currencies are designed to exist without borders and for the most part outside the government-regulated financial system.

Bitcoin and Ethereum were higher Tuesday morning by double-digit percentages while Dogecoin was also higher.  (iStock / iStock)

The Biden administration is in the early stages of exploring the area, with the aim of disrupting economic activity in the country, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing an administration official. Sanctions on Russia’s crypto activities would need to be crafted in a way that didn’t destroy the broader crypto market, which may make imposing them difficult, the official said.

Regulators’ attempts to have greater oversight of crypto transactions in recent years could give governments leverage, for instance, to ask crypto exchanges and brokerages to block transactions in certain countries or with certain government-issued currencies, such as the ruble.

In other cryptocurrency news, Bitcoin soared more than 15% at one point Monday, even as Russia escalated its war against Ukraine, pounding the country’s capital Kyiv and its second-largest city, Kharkiv, with rocket fire, Coindesk reported. The gain was bitcoin’s largest single-day increase in a year. Ether rose over 12% and other major cryptos were firmly in the green.

Observers of the conflict initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin fear the nearly 200,000-strong invading force that was bloodied by surprisingly strong Ukraine resistance last week will resort to more brutal tactics. Russia and Ukraine delegations adjourned their initial peace talks on the Belarus border without resolution to report back to their governments as European and U.S. sanctions began to bite into the Russian economy.

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Earlier in the day, Ukraine Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov asked “all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users.” Europe and the U.S. have banned certain Russian banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the messaging network supporting global financial transactions. The move has blocked these institutions from conducting any interbank transactions with non-Russian entities. Russia has viewed crypto as a way to circumvent this sanction and others meant to isolate them from the global financial system.

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