In the wake of recent sanctions, cryptocurrencies have been barely affected. This week, however, U.S. officials targeted Russian bitcoin mining firm BitRiver in its latest round of sanctions aimed at hurting Russia’s economy. Sanctions are being imposed on cryptocurrency mining companies for the first time in history. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control says it is concerned Russia may monetize its vast oil reserves and other natural resources with power-intensive crypto mining to raise funds and get around western sanctions.
Earlier U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced they haven’t noticed any significant Russian sanctions evasion through crypto so far. Yet, the digital assets market is closely monitored by relevant agencies and private companies on the subject of circumventing the sanctions by Russian businesses. The potential exploitation of bitcoin production for Russian sanctions evasion remains a key concern for global regulators, including the International Monetary Fund.
The new sanctions will hit BitRiver and its various subsidiaries, blocking them from accessing the U.S. crypto exchanges or mining equipment. It is crucial for the market as Bitcoin’s hashrate records an all-time high and Bitcoin mining difficulty is expected to jump.
Separately, Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, is restricting services for Russian users in response to the fifth wave of EU sanctions. Russian Binance accounts with over 10,000 euros in digital currency will be prevented from making deposits or trades and can only withdraw funds, the company said.
Despite all these risks, the market leaves rises for Bitcoin. Besides, privacy tokens (cryptocurrencies that preserve anonymity)– have been trending upwards over the last 30 days, with some crypto analysts pointing to geopolitical tensions as the catalyst. To sum up, the crypto market is responding positively to the current circumstances.