US Treasury imposes sanctions against Pro-Russia groups' cryptocurrency addresses - Robotics Online
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US Treasury imposes sanctions against Pro-Russia groups' cryptocurrency addresses

30 Sep 2022

The US Treasury Department has continued to issue sanctions against Russia following the invasion of Ukraine. The department has now announced that 22 individuals and two firms were added to the sanctions lists under the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The sanctioned entities have been linked to the Russian government.

US Treasury adds pro-Russia groups to OFAC sanctions list

The individuals and entities included in this new sanctions list are believed to have supported the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One of the sanctioned entities is the Task Force Rusich. According to the agency, this entity is believed to be a neo-Nazi paramilitary group fighting alongside the Russian military in Ukraine.

The Treasury Department released a press release saying that the sanctioning of these individuals and entities was done in partnership with the actions being taken by the US Department of Commerce.

The Treasury said that the Department of Commerce was imposing extra export control measures that would align with the goals of its partners and allies. It also added that the US Department of State targeted Russia's defense and high-tech industries.

Besides imposing sanctions on the Task Force Rusich, OFAC has also listed a list of blacklisted Bitcoin, Ether, and Tether (USDT) cryptocurrency addresses. These addresses have been linked to the group.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year, cryptocurrency donations started streaming into the region. Both Russia and Ukraine turned to their global supporters for funding. Digital assets have been largely used for these donations because of their cross-border nature.

A July report released by Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics firm, said that groups linked to Russia had secured $2 million worth of cryptocurrencies, with a large share of these funds being in Bitcoin, accounting for $1.45M of the donations and Ethereum accounting for $590,000. A sizable amount was also donated in other cryptocurrencies such as Tether, Litecoin, and Dogecoin.

However, the amount of crypto donations going towards Russia have been few compared to the donations that have gone to Ukraine. By March 2022, Ukraine had received around $100 million worth of cryptocurrency donations, with the donations being in Bitcoin, Ethereum, TRON, Polkadot, Dogecoin, and Solana. The donations include $5 million donated by the founder of the Ethereum Blockchain, Vitalik Buterin.

OFAC's role in crypto regulations

In recent months, OFAC has heightened its scrutiny over the cryptocurrency market. The crypto community was taken aback when the agency imposed sanctions on the Tornado Cash cryptocurrency mixer and multiple Ethereum addresses, saying that the mixer tool was being used to support money laundering.

The US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, issued a statement saying that it was supporting the efforts of Ukraine to achieve freedom. Therefore, it was taking measures to lower the ability of Russia to rebuild its military, saying that the perpetrators would be found guilty of their accounts of violence. She also said that the objective was to isolate Putin.
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