Federal Lawmakers Worry Russian Leaders Are Using Crypto To Avoid Sanctions


US federal lawmakers are increasing their efforts to trace the potential use of cryptocurrency by Russian leaders and oligarchs to evade sweeping sanctions imposed on the nation in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Financial advisors and crypto researchers have warned that bitcoin and different currencies could possibly be used to fund Russia’s conflict efforts, and defend the wealth of its oligarchs.

In a letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday, a bunch of senators, together with Elizabeth Warren and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner, requested in regards to the company’s plans to watch crypto networks for proof of Russian leaders shifting cash and to implement sanction compliance. “Criminals, rogue states, and different actors might use digital belongings and different cost platforms as a brand new means to cover cross-border transactions for nefarious functions,” the senators wrote, citing the Treasury’s personal 2021 report that warned of crypto’s capability to undermine the efficacy of US sanctions.

Final yr, the Treasury’s Workplace of Overseas Property Management (OFAC) issued steering for evaluating and mitigating the dangers that crypto markets pose to sanctions. An OFAC report requested expertise corporations and crypto customers to say no to interact in “dealings with blocked individuals or property.”

This new letter reiterates those self same issues and asks particularly how OFAC is working with overseas governments to implement its steering and what roadblocks have prevented it from doing so.

On the similar time the letter was despatched, US Lawyer Common Merrick Garland introduced a brand new interagency process power, KleptoCapture, which will probably be devoted to imposing sanctions and different financial restrictions that the US has imposed on Russia. “The Process Drive will probably be absolutely empowered to make use of essentially the most cutting-edge investigative methods,” similar to cryptocurrency tracing, to arrest and prosecute people present in violation, the announcement famous.

Whereas these coinciding bulletins don’t seem like a joint effort, collectively they mark essentially the most formalized try to research the function of crypto networks in Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

Within the final week, Ukraine has requested crypto exchanges to dam all Russian accounts. “It is essential to freeze not solely the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but additionally to sabotage bizarre customers,” Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted on Sunday.

Up to now, the crypto trade has largely ignored or condemned calls to freeze Russian holdings. ​​Changpeng Zhao, founding father of the world’s largest crypto trade Binance, instructed BBC Radio 4 that the corporate was “not able to sanction, like, populations of individuals,” and mentioned Binance would solely reply to requests relating to particular people. One other giant trade, Coinbase, instructed Motherboard that it’s going to not adjust to Ukraine’s request within the curiosity of “financial freedom.”

Bloomberg reported that the White Home’s Nationwide Safety Council and the Treasury Division equally requested exchanges to assist their efforts. And whereas crypto networks appear unilaterally against blanket bans, corporations like Coinbase are working with the Biden administration to dam the accounts of Russians focused by sanctions.



First Presidency asks world leaders to seek peace in Ukraine as church closes Kyiv temple


Because the conflict over Ukraine intensified once more Friday, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a press release pleading with world leaders to hunt a swift, peaceable decision. (Steve Griffin, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Because the conflict over Ukraine intensified once more Friday, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a press release pleading with world leaders to hunt a swift, peaceable decision.

What did the First Presidency say about Russia and Ukraine?

“We’re heartbroken and deeply involved by the armed battle now raging. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has members in every of the affected areas and all through the world. Our minds and hearts have been turned towards them and all our brothers and sisters.

“We proceed to wish for peace. We all know that enduring peace could be discovered via Jesus Christ. He can calm and luxury our souls even within the midst of horrible conflicts. He taught us to like God and our neighbors.

“We pray that this armed battle will finish shortly, that the controversies will finish peacefully, and that peace will prevail amongst nations and inside our personal hearts. We plead with world leaders to hunt for such resolutions and peace.”

The assertion was launched by Presidents Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring on the church’s newsroom web site.

What in regards to the Kyiv Ukraine Temple?

Earlier this week, earlier than Russian troops invaded Ukraine by land and sea, church leaders closed the Kyiv Ukraine Temple close to the nation’s capital as a precaution, church spokesman Sam Penrod mentioned.

“This temple has suspended all operations and ordinances till additional discover,” in line with a word posted on the temple’s web site.

The Kyiv temple is the one Latter-day Saint temple between Germany and the Pacific Rim.

“In case you have an present appointment for a sealing or your personal endowment, you’ll be contacted by temple workers,” the temple’s web site mentioned.

Combating in Ukraine intensified once more on Friday as Russian troops superior on Kyiv, the nation’s capital. Ukrainian troops proceed to offer stiff resistance, nevertheless, ABC Information reported.

Ukrainians fled Kyiv and different main cities as hostilities grew. In the meantime, Russia additionally started to see the impacts of the worldwide sanctions. The Russian inventory market fell by 33%.

What is occurring with Latter-day Saint missionaries in Ukraine and Russia?

The church introduced in January, as tensions on the border grew, that it had reassigned all non-Ukrainian Latter-day Saint missionaries to different international locations. Some who have been close to the tip of their assignments returned residence. Others now are serving in Germany, Croatia, Poland, Sweden, Spain, Canada and in a number of U.S. states, together with Alaska, Illinois, Washington and at Temple Sq. in Salt Lake Metropolis.

On Friday afternoon, a church spokesman confirmed that the entire church’s non-Russian volunteers had left Russia greater than per week in the past.

“As of mid-February, roughly 50 younger volunteers have taken assignments exterior of Russia, given the current advice of many international governments advising in opposition to journey to Russia,” spokesman Sam Penrod mentioned. “Native church conferences and companies stay underneath the course of native members, who function lay leaders of their congregations. The message of peace, love and hope in our Savior Jesus Christ continues to be lived and practiced in strict observance of all authorized laws.”

In July 2016 Russia applied an anti-terrorism regulation that included a provision banning public missionary work. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints instantly complied, redesignating its younger missionaries as volunteers and directing them to observe the regulation’s provision that every one proselytizing happen in homes of worship.

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake Metropolis and Catholic Neighborhood Companies additionally issued the next assertion:

“We be a part of with Pope Francis in his name for prayer and fasting for peace in Ukraine and the safety of harmless lives. We encourage our authorities leaders to welcome any Ukrainian refugees displaced by these mindless acts of aggression and urge individuals to assist our Ukrainian brothers and sisters by donating to the efforts of Catholic Reduction Companies, which is already serving individuals in want in Ukraine. Ought to the state of affairs escalate to the purpose of resettling Ukrainian refugees in the USA, Catholic Neighborhood Companies of Utah’s Migration and Refugee Companies workforce is keen to help.”

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World leaders fine-tune punitive measures against Russia : NPR


Folks protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine at an illustration within the Studio Metropolis neighborhood of Los Angeles on Thursday.

Damian Dovarganes/AP


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Folks protest the Russian invasion of Ukraine at an illustration within the Studio Metropolis neighborhood of Los Angeles on Thursday.

Damian Dovarganes/AP

TOKYO — Twenty million {dollars} in U.N. humanitarian funds, and a deliberate infusion of 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion) in EU financial help for Ukraine. A raft of recent, stronger sanctions in opposition to Russia from Japan, Europe, Australia, Taiwan and others. And a cascade of condemnation from the very best ranges.

As Russian bombs and troops pounded Ukraine throughout the invasion’s first full day, world leaders on Friday started to fine-tune a response meant to punish the Russian financial system and its leaders, together with President Vladimir Putin’s interior circle.

Whereas there’s an acute consciousness {that a} army intervention is unlikely, for now, the power, unity and velocity of the monetary sanctions — with the placing exception of China, a powerful Russian supporter — sign a rising international willpower to make Moscow rethink its assault.

French Finance minister Bruno Le Maire stated Friday that France and its European allies are decided to inflict nice harm on Russian financial system and punish Russia for the “silly choices of Vladimir Putin” with “huge and quick sanctions.”

“We wish to isolate Russia financially,” Le Maire stated. “We wish to minimize all ties between Russia and the worldwide monetary system. We’ll dry up the financing of the Russian financial system.”

France and its allies have determined to additional sanction people, in addition to impose penalties focusing on finance, power and different sectors, French President Emmanuel Macron stated Friday. The authorized texts for the sanctions can be finalized and submitted for approval to EU international ministers later Friday.

Macron additionally stated that the EU has selected financial help for Ukraine within the “unprecedented” quantity of 1.5 billion euros ($1.68 billion).

Russia’s civil aviation authority has banned U.Ok. flights to and over Russia in retaliation to the British ban on Aeroflot flights. Rosaviatsiya stated that each one flights by U.Ok. carriers to Russia in addition to transit flights are banned beginning Friday. It stated the measure was taken in response to the “unfriendly choices” by the British authorities who banned flights to the U.Ok. by the Russian flag service Aeroflot as a part of sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Folks maintain a big flag of Ukraine in Duomo Sq., Milan, Italy on Thursday.

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Folks maintain a big flag of Ukraine in Duomo Sq., Milan, Italy on Thursday.

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Nations in Asia and the Pacific have joined america, the 27-nation European Union and others within the West in piling on punitive measures in opposition to Russian banks and main firms. The nations have additionally arrange export controls geared toward ravenous Russia’s industries and army of semiconductors and different high-tech merchandise.

“Japan should clearly present its place that we’ll by no means tolerate any try to vary the established order by drive,” Prime Minister Fumio Kishida informed reporters Friday whereas saying new punitive measures that included freezing the visas and belongings of Russian teams, banks and people, and the suspension of shipments of semiconductors and different restricted items to Russian military-linked organizations.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a particularly grave growth that impacts the worldwide order, not just for Europe but in addition for Asia,” Kishida stated.

The strikes observe Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Putin’s forces performed airstrikes on cities and army bases, and his troops and tanks rolled into the nation from three sides. Ukraine’s authorities pleaded for assist as civilians fled. Scores of Ukrainians, civilians and repair members alike, have been killed.

“An unthinkable variety of harmless lives may very well be misplaced due to Russia’s determination,” New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern stated. She introduced focused journey bans in opposition to Russian officers and different measures.

UK Protection Secretary Ben Wallace rejected Russian claims of success on the primary day of its invasion, telling Sky Information that it had “did not ship” on its main targets and is behind on its timetable for advance.

Wallace additionally stated that imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine would put British pilots in direct battle with Russian forces, and implementing it could successfully require NATO to declare struggle on Russia and broaden the battle in Ukraine.

“I am not placing British troops on to battle Russian troops,” Wallace informed the BBC.

Oslo Metropolis Corridor was illuminated with the colours of the Ukrainian flag in Norway’s capital on Thursday evening.

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Oslo Metropolis Corridor was illuminated with the colours of the Ukrainian flag in Norway’s capital on Thursday evening.

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On the United Nations, officers put aside $20 million to spice up U.N. humanitarian operations in Ukraine. Individually, the U.N. Safety Council is anticipated to vote Friday on a decision condemning Russia and demanding the quick withdrawal of all its forces. Moscow, nonetheless, is definite to veto it.

U.N. humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths stated the $20 million from the U.N.’s Central Emergency Response Fund will help emergency operations alongside the contact line in japanese Donetsk and Luhansk and in different areas of the nation, and can “assist with well being care, shelter, meals, and water and sanitation to probably the most weak individuals affected by the battle.”

The West and its allies have proven no inclination to ship troops into Ukraine — a non-member of NATO — and threat a wider struggle on the continent. However NATO strengthened its member states in Japanese Europe as a precaution in opposition to an assault on them, too.

The European Union Aviation Security Company prolonged to 200 nautical miles the airspace it considers dangerous, and warned of “the specter of missile launches to and from Ukraine.”

Protests by Ukrainians and their supporters have been deliberate Friday throughout Asia. Public buildings, sports activities stadiums and landmarks within the Australian metropolis of Melbourne have been illuminated in Ukraine’s nationwide colours of blue and yellow.

Japan’s new sanctions observe an earlier set of measures that embody the suspension of distributing and issuing new Russian authorities bonds in Japan — a transfer geared toward chopping funding for Russia’s army — a commerce ban with two Ukrainian separatist areas and the freezing of their belongings and visas.

Japan, which has lengthy sought to regain management of Russian-held northern islands seized on the finish of World Battle II, took a milder stance towards Moscow throughout Russia’s 2014 Crimea annexation. Tokyo’s response to the present invasion has been thought-about more durable and quicker, one thing which may be linked to a deep fear in Tokyo over China’s more and more assertive army actions within the area.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in stated his nation will be part of worldwide sanctions, however will not contemplate unilateral sanctions.

South Korea’s comparative warning is probably going as a result of its financial system is closely depending on worldwide commerce. It additionally worries that strained ties with Moscow may undermine efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear disaster. Russia is South Korea’s tenth largest buying and selling associate, and Moscow is a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Safety Council and maintains pleasant ties with North Korea.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi phoned Putin late Thursday and appealed for an “quick cessation of violence,” his workplace stated in an announcement.

India’s everlasting U.N. consultant pushed for “pressing de-escalation” via “sustained and centered diplomacy,” however stopped in need of both condemning Russia or acknowledging Ukraine’s sovereignty.

The cautious assertion displays India’s delicate place. It depends closely on Russia, a historic associate, for army gear however has sought to strengthen ties with the West through the years.

Taiwan introduced Friday that it could take part financial sanctions in opposition to Russia, though it didn’t specify what kind of measures these could be. Sanctions may probably be centered on export management of semiconductor chips, native media reported. Taiwan is the dominant producer of such chips, a important element utilized in applied sciences from vehicles to laptops to cellphones.

Whereas most nations in Asia rallied to help Ukraine, China has continued to denounce sanctions in opposition to Russia and blamed america and its allies for frightening Moscow. Beijing, anxious about U.S. energy in Asia, has more and more aligned its international coverage with Russia to problem the West.

“At a time when Australia, along with the UK, along with america and Europe and Japan, are performing to chop off Russia, the Chinese language authorities is following via on easing commerce restrictions with Russia and that’s merely unacceptable,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated Friday.

“You do not go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the course of a interval once they’re invading one other nation,” he added, referring to a report in The South China Morning Publish that China had introduced it was absolutely open to Russian wheat imports.

In Tokyo, Ukraine’s high diplomat for Japan urged China to affix worldwide efforts to cease the Russian invasion.

“We’d very a lot welcome that China will train its reference to Russia and speak to Putin and clarify to him it’s inappropriate within the twenty first century to do that bloodbath in Europe,” Ambassador Sergiy Korsunsky informed reporters.