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Pro-Russian outfits have resorted to digital asset funds in a bid to support the war efforts against Ukraine while evading international sanctions. A new report suggests that these groups are raising a massive amount of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies via crowdfunding campaigns.
According to Chris Janczewski, head of global investigations at TRM Labs, the blockchain intelligence resource identified around $400,000 in cryptocurrency raised since the beginning of the invasion on February 24.
- TRM Labs’ research report on the same revealed that Task Force Rusich – which happens to be a pro-Kremlin militia advocating for the murder and torture of Ukrainian prisoners – is also one such group raising funds in crypto.
- The group was sanctioned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) last month, along with two of its senior leaders and five crypto addresses associated with it.
- TRM Labs also discovered a Telegram Channel called Romanov Light that amassed more than $174,000 in crypto for the Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR), an elite Special Forces unit of the National Guard of Russia.
- The Novorossia Aid Coordinating Center raised approximately $21,000, primarily bitcoin, to purchase drones. The 8-year-old entity was created to support Russian operations in the now war-torn country.
- The development follows European Union (EU) slamming the “sham” independence voting that was conducted in Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine.
- Amid the current escalation of the conflict in the country, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced intentions to impose a new round of sanctions that also aims to restrict the ability of Russians to transfer wealth using cryptocurrencies.
- Russia has been advancing its crypto strategy to skirt the Western sanctions.
- Last month, Russia’s Ministry of Finance and the central bank agreed on legislation to facilitate cross-border payments using crypto.
- The two agencies also found common ground in legalizing mining activity in energy-rich regions of the country.