A terrible war has been raging in Ukraine for weeks, which according to the media will either only last a few months or for years. Fatal consequences for the economy were the result of skyrocketing price increases. Now the West is finally fighting back.
The war was triggered by Russia, so the West responded with sanctions ranging from government agencies to private individuals. The aim of the sanctions is clear – to put the greatest possible pressure on Russia. This is intended to force Russia to cease all hostilities.
One of the sanctions aims to freeze state and private assets. In return, Russia keeps trying to circumvent the sanctions. Cryptocurrencies also play an increasingly important role here. Especially if what was recently stated by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin is true. During the presentation of an annual report, he stated that Russian citizens had around 10 trillion rubles in cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency Holdings in Russia
To get a better idea of the 10 trillion rubles in cryptocurrencies, you need to find out the value in dollars. That would correspond to a value of 130 billion US dollars. And in the statements of the Russian Prime Minister, Mikhail Mishustin, there is another peculiarity, namely the type of cryptocurrency. So he limited this amount exclusively to BTC. Thus, this suggests that assets exist in other cryptocurrencies as well. So, he said:
We are aware that so far we have more than 10 million young people who have opened crypto wallets to which they have transferred significant amounts of money exceeding 10 trillion rubles.
Still, one cannot judge whether the statements made by the prime minister are correct or not. Even the Russian government doesn’t know for sure, as the prime minister has had to admit. Thus, these numbers are based on an estimate.
The assets of 10 trillion rubles in Bitcoin are said to be held by around 10 million Russians. If these official figures are correct, Russia would have achieved the same wealth in bitcoin as it has in gold reserves. These are currently around 140 billion US dollars.
Crypto Fortunes in Russia Have Been Underestimated
The Central Bank of Russia also recently concentrated around 5 billion US dollars in transactions per year. In view of the current holdings, this figure appears to be significantly higher. Overall, the stock of cryptocurrencies in Russia was assessed somewhat differently.
Here one comes up with 214 billion US dollars. And thus it’s significantly more than just 130 billion US dollars. So it can be said that both the Russian government and other countries are wrong with their previous assessments.
Cryptocurrency Investments During Crisis
Especially with regard to the sanctions by the West, there are hardly any forms of investment for Russian investors. It is therefore not surprising that investments are now being made in cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are a good alternative here because their transactions are not subject to state supervision.
Western sanctions cannot stop them. Incidentally, cryptocurrencies are currently not only used by Russians as an investment. Foreigners who have assets in Russia also use cryptocurrencies. Since normal financial transactions no longer work, wealth is withdrawn from Russia via cryptocurrencies.
Quite a few crypto industry experts, including Binance founder Changpeng Zhao, believe that investing in cryptocurrencies will not help the Russians circumvent the sanctions. After all, cryptocurrencies are not as anonymous as many people think. Thus, to get hold of the fortune, one needs the help of major crypto exchanges. So, Changpeng Zhao said:
Most transactions do need to go through a centralized exchange, any large transactions of value, because the decentralized exchanges don’t have enough liquidity yet. […] So that’s a misconception that Bitcoin is anonymous. Bitcoin’s anonymous feature is very, very weak.
The Issue of Crypto Regulating
The prime minister not only presents the alleged holdings of cryptocurrencies. Rather, he also announced the regulation of cryptocurrencies. Thus, the Russian government wants to make another attempt toward crypto regulation since previous ones have failed.
It remains to be seen whether the Ministry of Finance’s crypto law will be a success. Because the other ministries can still register changes to the law. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the content of the planned regulation. Accordingly, one cannot estimate how regulation could affect the market.
In view of the sanctions because of the war, however, the regulation will probably not be strong. Eventually, the Russian government will have to keep its people happy. And that includes fields for investments. Excessive regulation might be disadvantageous.
The limited traceability of bitcoin transactions is observed during the current conflict in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the current decline in bitcoin price also offers a good opportunity to buy some crypto at bargain prices. If you’re interested in buying BTC, you should definitely think about doing this at Switchere.
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The fact that cryptocurrencies have developed into the new crisis currencies has been observed for some time. And considering the immense wealth of Russian oligarchs and other wealthy Russians, we think the sum of 10 trillion rubles, or $130 billion, is far too small.
Perhaps these are just bitcoin holdings in Russian wallets, where the average Russian earner keeps their savings. Or it’s just a made-up sum published here by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin just to emphasize that the sanctions cannot harm the Russians.
And unfortunately, that is the case. While the current sanctions against Russia and some Russian individuals are the strongest in history, they are far too weak to persuade Putin to end the war. A lot more has to happen.