Speaking with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday, Hillary Clinton has criticized cryptocurrency exchanges who have refused to ban all Russians, arguing against their principles of openness and commitment to decentralized finance.
As the Western world punishes Russia for the Ukraine invasion by locking it out of the global financial system, cryptocurrency exchanges have come under pressure to ban all Russians from their platforms.
Most of the big exchanges have refused to ban Russians but say they will comply with the legal sanctions imposed on Russian politicians and oligarchs last week.
“Everybody should ratchet up the pressure,” Clinton said to Maddow on Monday. “I was disappointed to see that some of the so-called crypto exchanges, not all of them but some of them, are refusing to end transactions with Russia – you know, from some I don’t know, philosophy of libertarianism or whatever.”
The Biden administration said it was “continuing to aggressively combat the misuse of cryptocurrency, including to evade US sanctions.”
On Sunday, Ukraine’s vice prime minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on crypto exchanges to “block addresses of Russian users,” because it is “crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians – but also to sabotage ordinary users.”
Most of the major crypto exchanges have responded by saying they will comply with sanctions, but will not impose a blanket ban on all Russian users.
Kraken CEO Jesse Powell said: “Bitcoin is the embodiment of libertarian values, which strongly favor individualism and human rights.” He added that his company will not block Russian accounts “without a legal requirement to do so.”
Binance, arguably the largest crypto exchange, said that “unilaterally” banning Russians “would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.”