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Friday, March 1, 2024

Ukraine Seeks to Trace Illicit Crypto Transactions With American Help (Report)

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The US IRS has reportedly provided advanced training to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies in an attempt to detect illegal cryptocurrency transactions carried out by Russian oligarchs and companies.

Numerous entities and experts have argued that Russia could employ digital assets to evade restrictions (imposed by the Western World after the start of the military conflict in Ukraine) or finance war-related efforts. The US Treasury Department sanctioned five crypto addresses tied to Task Force Rusich last year. The latter is a Russian paramilitary group that has committed atrocities against soldiers.

Battling on the Economic Front

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided Ukraine with licenses to use Chinalysis Reactor (an investigation software that connects cryptocurrency transactions to real-world entities) to trace illicit proceedings conducted by Russians.

Ukrainian investigators have also received in-person training from the American department that could give the war-torn country an upper hand in its economic clash with Russia.

“We resist the aggressor state not only on the battlefield but also on the economic front,” said Eduard Fedorov – Acting Director of Ukraine’s Economic Security Bureau.

Another goal for the Ukrainian agencies is to halt Russian fundraising campaigns related to cryptocurrencies. Yurii Vykhodets, who leads the cyber department of Ukraine’s National Police, said:

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“One key area is the identification and elimination of centers of support for occupation forces that raise funds for the purchase of things necessary for the war. We often see fundraising campaigns conducted with the use of cryptocurrency, as Russia believes in the possibility of circumventing sanctions by using virtual assets.”

Russia Should Stay Away From Crypto

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year (described as a “special military operation” by President Vladimir Putin) has resulted in severe sanctions against the world’s largest country by landmass.

The USA, the European Union, Australia, and many others have imposed crippling financial restrictions in a bid to cease the aggression and dwindle Russia’s military strength.

In addition, many agencies and prominent figures have warned crypto companies to cut all ties with the invader, arguing that sanctioned oligarchs and organizations could use digital currencies to bypass penalties or fund war-related operations.

One example was the President of the European Central Bank – Christine Lagarde – who said entities interacting with Russia could be the subject of enhanced scrutiny.

The International Money Fund (IMF) has also given its two cents on the matter, suggesting the nation could mine bitcoin and altcoins to dodge restrictions.

The United States Treasury Department added five cryptocurrency addresses to its sanctions blacklist in September last year. Interestingly, all of them were connected to Task Force Rusich: a “neo-Nazi paramilitary group” that has been in combat and has committed brutal crimes on Ukrainian territory.

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