Major South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges have introduced restrictions for Russian users, effectively joining western sanctions over Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine. The measures include blocking IP addresses originating from the Russian Federation.
Largest Korean Exchange May Deny Withdrawals From Russia
Several crypto trading platforms in South Korea, including the country’s largest, are banning access from Russian IPs, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday. Upbit, Korea’s leading digital asset exchange, announced it could reject withdrawal requests related to Russia. It elaborated:
We’ve blocked subscriptions by users in countries which are at high risks of money laundering, in line with the guidelines of the Financial Action Task Force.
The report also reveals that Russian IP addresses have been blocked by Bithumb, Korbit, and Gopax. The latter froze 20 accounts registered by Russian users on Wednesday.
The restrictive measures in South Korea come as the United States and its allies are imposing wave after wave of sanctions on Russia, including export controls and expulsion of Russian banks from SWIFT, the interbank payments system.
Meanwhile, concerns that Russia may employ cryptocurrency to evade western sanctions have grown, as the country is being further isolated from the global financial system. G7 members and the European Union have been working to prevent Russia from using digital assets to circumvent restrictions.
Ukraine itself has been urging crypto exchanges to freeze all Russian accounts but failed to convince major global platforms like Binance and Kraken to do so. The government in Kyiv has been also working to expose crypto wallets used by politicians in Russia and Belarus.
At the same time, the Ukrainian authorities have been actively seeking to finance their defense efforts through cryptocurrency donations. The country, including non-government organizations, has already raised tens of millions of dollars’ worth of crypto in various currencies.
The international crypto community has responded to the crisis by funding humanitarian initiatives. Binance, the world’s largest exchange, has pledged $10 million while also facilitating assistance from third parties through crowdfunding.
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