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War Is Calling Crypto’s ‘Neutrality’ Into Question

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War Is Calling Crypto’s ‘Neutrality’ Into Question

War in Ukraine and Western sanctions against Russia have made cryptocurrency a hot potato for international politics.

Wired UK,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The idea of neutral cryptocurrencies may well be just that – an idea.

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Cryptocurrencies were intended to be politically neutral, decentralized instruments, but Russia’s 2022 attack on Ukraine has changed that. The war highlights how decentralized finance is departing from its original goal of transactional neutrality: Crypto exchanges are blocking the accounts of sanctioned Russians, while Ukrainian officials are successfully soliciting crypto donations to their government’s coffers. In this even-handed reporting, technology journalist Gian M. Volpicelli notes that this real-time transformation will have important and lasting implications for crypto’s role in society and the economy.


Cryptocurrencies were designed to be neutral and safe from government interference.

Cryptocurrencies were meant to be free from any sort of intervention or interdiction, whatever activity they financed. But this notion of neutrality has come under question.

Regulatory bodies worldwide are requiring crypto exchanges to identify and block accounts used for illegal purposes, such as for ransomware and purchases on the dark web. Know-your-customer and anti-money laundering rules compel exchanges in the West to perform due diligence.

The war in Ukraine has thrown the debate on crypto neutrality into sharp relief.

To adhere to sanction requirements ...

About the Author

Gian M. Volpicelli is a senior writer at WIRED.

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