Ukraine vice prime minister calls on crypto exchanges to freeze Russian accounts

Mykhailo Fedorov, vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation of Ukraine, has called on crypto exchanges to freeze the accounts of both Russian and Belarusian users.

Fedorov posted the plea on Twitter on February 27, following several days of intense fighting in Ukraine after Russian forces invaded the country late last week.

“I’m asking all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users,” Fedorov said. “It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users.”

Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken, one of the world’s largest exchanges, today responded that such a move could not be taken “without a legal requirement to do so,” but he added that Russian users should be aware that such an order “could be imminent.”

In a later tweet, Fedorov praised a move by NFT platform DMarket to freeze accounts belonging to customers in Russia and Belarus. DMarket had confirmed this on Twitter a few hours earlier, stating that assets remain in users’ accounts but that their access has been limited.

Fedorov's plea comes days after the United States and European Union jointly moved to cut certain Russian banks out of SWIFT, the international payments messaging system, in addition to freezing the overseas assets of Russia’s central bank.

The Russian rouble has this morning plunged to a record low, sparking fears of a bank run in the country.  

Meanwhile, more than $10m in bitcoin, ether and USDT has been donated to the Ukrainian government since its official Twitter account posted an appeal for support on February 26.