The European Union has confirmed a sweeping ban on providing crypto services to Russians as it tightens sanctions in the wake of what it calls “sham” secession votes in four Ukrainian regions. The news was first reported by CoinDesk last week.
The bloc introduced an eighth set of economic and political measures against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine in February, tightening a previous rule that limited crypto payments to European wallets to 10,000 euros ($9,900).
“The existing prohibitions on crypto assets have been tightened by banning all crypto-asset wallets, accounts, or custody services, irrespective of the amount of the wallet,” the European Commission said in a statement on Thursday, after proposals it made last week were signed off by EU governments.
The measures, which notably seek to cap the price of oil that Russia can sell, follow the country's attempt to annex the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The crypto clampdown, which took effect later Thursday after appearing in the EU’s official journal, forbids services being offered by European crypto providers to Russian residents and entities, unless they live in the bloc.
It appears to be motivated by fears that the existing 10,000 euro cap was not doing enough to curb payments from Russia, CoinDesk has learned.
“We realized that transactions were still going on on some scale” even after measures were imposed in April, an EU official said. “We wanted to make sure that these services are not rendered any more” by EU operators.
But the plans may rely on copycat measures from other European jurisdictions, added the official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.
“Switzerland in particular has been following all our [sanctions] measures in the past,” the official said. “We count that this is going to happen here as well.”
UPDATE (Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022, 14:50 UTC): Adds publication in official journal, comments from EU official.