Mar 10, 2023

Treasury Targets Crypto in Russian Sanctions Evasion

The United States Treasury has announced that deputies of the multilateral Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force have targeted cryptocurrencies in their efforts to prevent Russian entities from evading sanctions.

On March 9, the U.S. Treasury reported that the REPO team has successfully blocked and frozen more than $58 billion worth of assets linked to Russian entities since the country launched a military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The task force has been working to “counter Russian sanctions evasion”, which includes illicit crypto transactions.

“As Russia continues its war of aggression, REPO members are determined to impose steep costs on the Kremlin,” the task force stated. “REPO will continue to track down and freeze the assets of sanctioned Russians, in order to deprive the Kremlin of the funds needed to fuel its illegal war.”

Since the conflict in Ukraine began, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control and its European Union counterparts have implemented strict sanctions against entities connected to Russia in an attempt to slow down the war machine. Despite these measures, a Chainalysis report released on the one-year anniversary of the war revealed that pro-Kremlin groups and propaganda outlets had managed to raise almost $5 million through crypto transactions.

REPO also noted that assets tied to Russia under its members’ jurisdictions will remain “immobilized” until the conflict is resolved. Unfortunately, there is no sign of the war ending soon, with large parts of Ukraine still under Russian occupation and many cities in the country at risk of attack.

The use of crypto in the war effort has not gone unnoticed by the REPO Task Force. The team has been working with NFT marketing agencies and web3 agencies to promote the sale of NFTs to raise funds for the war effort. This has included the use of Twitter NFT marketing and other forms of NFT promotion. The funds raised through the sale of NFTs have been used to purchase weapons and other supplies for the war effort.

The REPO Task Force has also been working to raise awareness of the conflict in Ukraine through NFTs. This includes the sale of NFTs featuring artwork and stories related to the conflict. The proceeds from these sales are used to support NGOs and charities providing aid to those affected by the war.

The use of cryptocurrencies and NFTs to fund the war effort has been met with criticism from some who argue that it is helping to finance a war that has already caused immense suffering. However, the REPO Task Force has argued that it is necessary to use these tools to combat the Russian sanctions evasion and to support those affected by the conflict.

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