Recent talk of a ban on crypto in Russia may be premature – particularly after the nation’s President Vladimir Putin appeared to talk up the country’s crypto capabilities. And with the United States threatening to sanction the Russian leader over heightened tensions on the Ukrainian border, Putin may be keeping his options open.
In a video cabinet meeting, which was transcribed by the Kremlin’s official website, Putin stated that “as for cryptocurrencies, the Central Bank has its own position on the matter.” He noted that “according to the experts at the Central Bank,” the “expansion” of crypto “poses certain risks.”
As previously reported, the Central Bank last week reiterated its calls on the government to ban all forms of crypto and crypto mining – but has been met with opposition from MPs and the government, some of whom have claimed that such talk makes Russia a “laughing stock” in international communities.
However, Putin stated that “of course, we also have certain competitive advantages” in the realm of crypto, “especially in the field of [crypto] mining.” Putin added that Russia’s electricity surplus and its preponderance of “well-trained personnel in the country” were also advantageous.
The President concluded by stating:
“I ask both the government of Russia and the Central Bank to come to some kind of unanimous opinion during their forthcoming discussion on the matter. I ask them to hold these discussions in the near future, and then report on the results [of this] discussion.”
That discussion will likely come next month, when senior government officials meet the Central Bank and industry leaders in a bid to hash out a comprehensive piece of legislation to cover crypto trading, ownership, and mining.
The Ministry of Finance, Izvestia reported, is the latest government body to express its disdain for a ban, claiming that the industry needed “regulation, not bans.”
Putin’s remarks come as the United States President Joe Biden said he “would consider personal sanctions on Putin” should Russia launch an invasion of Ukraine, as reported by the BBC.
Per Reuters, the Kremlin has reacted angrily to talk of sanctions. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, claimed that sanctions on Putin would not inflict “pain” on the leader, but could have “politically destructive” consequences.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today program this morning, UK political leaders suggested that Putin and his allies could be frozen out of the SWIFT banking system at Biden’s request.
Indeed, the United States has sought similar solutions in its struggle with other international players, such as the government of Venezuela.
But Russian cabinet ministers have been talking up their own SWIFT alternatives in recent years. And given Putin’s own cautiously positive comments on crypto in the past, it is clear that he is not ready to close the door on crypto – and prefers to keep his options open.
El Salvador, another nation with an increasingly strained relationship with Washington, appears ready to turn its back on international financial bodies altogether. Its bitcoin (BTC)-keen leader recently met a threat from the International Monetary Fund with a dismissive Simpsons-themed meme.
Should Putin decide to follow El Salvador’s lead, he might well feel that the crypto cards are stacked in his favor.
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