Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label russia. Show all posts

With 'Assistance' from Exchanges, Ukraine Gains Access to Russian Crypto Wallets and SEIZES All Their Assets...

Ukraine Russia War & Cryptocurrency

Crypto assets have played a role in financing both sides in the war between Russia and Ukraine, something we started seeing signs of almost immediately upon its start.

Now Ukraine is allocating some of its limited resources and manpower to this digital front, according to the Ukraine Security Service - a law enforcement agency that says they successfully deployed what's vaguely being called a 'mechanism' to 'block wallets of Russian volunteers who raise funds for the Russian army'.

However, this actually went much further than 'blocking' a transaction. It actually appears no  transactions were blocked - but they did block who could access it. Ukraine then proceeded to seize the funds sent to the unnamed 'Russian volunteer' - then tracked him down and arrested him. 

According to the Ukraine Security Service, they did this with 'the assistance of foreign crypto exchanges.' which remain unnamed.

Total value of the crypto was approximately $20,000 USD.

The simplified version....

Crypto exchanges in pro-Ukraine nations are locking out Russian users, and letting Ukrainian authorities in to take their funds.

As always, bold moves tend to come with increased risks, and it's worth pausing to realize we wouldn't want to hear Russia or one of its allies did this to a UK or US citizen under the justification of the account owner supporting Ukraine.

This isn't my opinion, it's been official policy of the US not to do this.

The US and its allies have a long history of 'freezing' funds, not spending them. The amount of money US and UK citizens have held in foreign banks or businesses at any given moment is why "no you can't have it, but we also won't take it for ourselves" is a mutually beneficial policy during conflict.

The financial war...

While the media rarely goes into detail on actions done quietly behind the scenes, both sides have been surprisingly aggressive when it comes to using their authority over financial intuitions and businesses if they believe taking certain actions will result in inflicting economic damage on the other. 

US and NATO Allies have frozen Russia's accounts in their banks, in the US alone there is over $600 million they now cannot access. Russian gold imports are also banned, and Russian flights can no longer enter the US, UK, EU and Canadian airspace. 

While everything mentioned so far is fairly traditional and predictable when it comes to sanctions, the NATO member nations have another layer of sanctions intended to target Putin's wealthy friends and other influential Russians. Over 1000 individuals and their businesses with assets within the reach of governments supporting Ukraine have had them frozen or seized. Not just cash, anything belonging to the people on this list is potentially up for grabs. These sanctions are meant to disrupt the lives of one man instead of an entire country—the goal being to leave Putin surrounded by frustrated people motivated to see the war end.

Russia has hit back...

The most impactful so far was Putin's decision to stop accepting US dollars for their oil. While this may not sound like a big deal at first, it's important to note that all oil from around the world is typically purchased with US dollars. Whether it be from Russia or the Middle East, the USD was considered the standard currency everyone agreed upon.

Then factor in how much oil Russia sells, up to $700 million PER DAY - and you understand how requiring all transactions for Russian oil to use their currency (the Ruble) saved it from collapsing, after losing nearly half its value at the beginning of the war.

Protect Yourself...

While average citizens from the countries involved in the conflict have not been targeted by any governments involved so far, that's something we could potentially see change if the conflict escalates and intensifies.

Remember, the offer of removing sanctions and resuming business with Russia is on the table as a reward for ending the war. That's the entire purpose of imposing sanctions in the first place.

But if Putin continues military operations in Ukraine much longer, ignoring the sanctions, we reach a point where neither country intends to work with the other any time soon. This is when orders to seize anything belonging to people from that rival nation become an option.

My advice: if this were to happen, the announcement would come after it’s done, so now is a good time protect your assets by making sure none are sitting on a Russia-based exchange, or any other investment platform.

The downside of Ukraine openly boasting about seizing crypto belonging to a Russian citizen is that Russia could do the same, and claim they’re simply giving an equal response.

Author: Ross Davis
Silicon Valley Newsroom
GCP | Breaking Crypto News

Bitcoin RISES ABOVE The Russia/Ukraine Conflict...

Bitcoin in the The Russia/Ukraine Conflict

After a rally of almost 3,000 dollars in just a few hours, Bitcoin has returned to the $40k zone, touching $41,000! This comes after Bitcoin spent the previous five days hovering around the 38,000 price level. This would be the first time Bitcoin has recovered and maintained a support level of 40,000 since tensions between Russia and Ukraine turned to all out war.

The world's gaze remains fixed on Moscow and Kiev, and BTC initially fell by 8% as a result of the wars in Eastern Europe.

While Bitcoin Rises, Other Markets Continue To Suffer...

While Bitcoin was rising, stocks were falling and energy prices were rising on Monday, as an escalation of sanctions against Russia in response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine stoked further uncertainty about the outlook for global financial markets, sending oil prices above $900 per barrel for the first time since 2014.

When comparing bitcoin to other assets on the market, we can see a shift in the way the market's most popular cryptocurrency has been behaving. While bitcoin's price dropped in tandem with the US stock market a few days ago, with the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there is now a decoupling from the activities and a price trend more akin to commodities.

What's Causing This?

According to a belief circulating financial discussion boards, Russian and Ukrainian investors, as well as those from other areas of the world, are turning to raw materials and bitcoin to protect their riches in the wake of the disaster.

This would support the idea that bitcoin is becoming more widely regarded as a safe haven asset in situations with significant economic, political, or social ramifications.

Author: Matthew Miller
London Newsroom Global Crypto Press
Breaking Crypto News

Bitcoin Enters the Russia vs Ukraine Conflict - Will Crypto Become a Standard Tool in Future Wars?

Bitcoin in Ukraine and Russia Conflict

Bitcoin has become embroiled in the ongoing crisis between Ukraine and Russia. A recent research revealed how Ukrainian rebel and defense groups have collected bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as donations to fund their activities.

Elliptic, a cryptocurrency research organization, conducted the study. It examines how non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other advocacy groups in Ukraine might use bitcoin.

According to the report, the total amounts received by the groups and NGOs that were tracked for donations via cryptocurrency was just over a half-million in USD - which the study notes represents a 'small percentage' of the overall incoming funds.

This was likely a test on how beneficial it is to have Bitcoin on hand during a conflict. 

But when you consider the question: is the ability to send unstoppable transactions into a war zone a powerful capability?  Clearly - yes. 

Unfortunately I can already see politicians praising it when used their own military or allies, then calling it 'a tool finance enemy regimes' when it's the other way around.

Crypto Never Has Played a Large Role in Facilitating Otherwise Secret or Illegal Transactions... 

Regular government issued fiat currencies are used 160X more often in crimes compare to cryptocurrencies - a massive difference.

While the media painted Bitcoin as new choice of the criminal underground - many of those criminals learned the hard way that the only reason Bitcoin was being called 'untraceable' is the reporters writing about it didn't know how to to use it.

According to a recent report from blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, bitcoin was used to launder less than 0.5 percent of the USD 8,600 million that was laundered in 2021 - down 4% from the previous year.

Everything above highlights what we believe will be an emerging trend - continued declining use by bad actors, and increased usage in cases where a transaction that cannot be stopped or intercepted are needed, but anonymity is not. 

Author: Mark Pippen
London News Desk 
Breaking Crypto News

NUCLEAR Powered Cryptocurrency Miners?! Russian Power Company Opens First Of 4 Sites That Will Rent Out Space On-Site...

Nuclear powered bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining
Russian based Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation spotted a market in need of what they sell - power!

But there's one major difference between them and some of the other hydroelectric, wind, of geothermal based power companies around the world that have embraced electricity-hungry cryptocurrency miners- they're NUCLEAR.

Sergei Nemchenkov, director of the information says the company does not plan to mine, but will "take advantage of the opportunity to sell additional energy to heavy users and rent space for their equipment".

It won't be a huge leap for the power company, they already rent out similar space for businesses with web servers/data centers.

The company says the first location, their power plant in Udomlya (about 200 miles outside of Moscow) is ready to go, and claims they spent 4.8 million building the on-site facilities for miners to rent out.

This is the first of 4 nuclear powered locations they aim to launch this year.

Author: Mark Pippen
London News Desk

The Russian Government Wants A Piece Of Ethereum Creator Vitalik Buterin...

The Russian government has taken a hard turn from 'considering' banning crypto, to embracing it and aggressively attempting to solidify themselves as a global player in the market.  Part of that plan - get Ethereum's creator on board.

This segment aired earlier this year, but was just made available online.

Video Courtesy Of Vice On HBO

Muller investigation into Russian election meddling says operation was funded by Bitcoin... but something isn't adding up.

So, the Russian election meddling operation was both a mixture of evil genius, and unbelievable stupidity. Or so we're being told.

Touching the topic of politics is like playing with fire, i'm just a tech journalist - and that's what i'm looking at here - simply the technical aspects of this highly politicized story.

But in a time when it's painfully obvious that neutral reporting is a lost art and every outlet here in America is the mouthpiece of one of the two main political parties, I feel it's important I disclose my personal views before diving in.

I'm an independent. A real one. I couldn't decide which side I distrust more of I had to, when I've been asked which I would vote for in that 'gun to your head' hypothetical ultimatum - my answer is 'just flip a coin'. I see huge differences between what candidates from each party say - and little difference into how they actually act once they've won.

So with that said, on the topic of Russian election meddling - sure, I believe it happened.

What i'm not convinced of is it was just them. It's a game dozens of countries play - the US isn't just a victim of election meddling but among the world leaders when it comes to doing it to other nations, China and Israel come to mind as the top runners-up.

The FBI indictment filed this week against 12 Russians outlines how they used Bitcoin in the election meddling operation, stating:

"...using funds in a bitcoin address, the Conspirators purchased a VPN account, which they later used to log into the @Guccifer_2 Twitter account. 

The remaining funds from that bitcoin address were then used to lease a Malaysian server that hosted the website."

Here's where things start to make no sense, the indictment outlines their motive for using Bitcoin as:

“...web of transactions structured to capitalize on the perceived anonymity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin."

The problem is: Russian intelligence, and even the average teen or college student who started dabbling in Bitcoin last year knows - it's not anonymous.

Did you catch the other incredibly sloppy 'mistake' they made? They used the same Bitcoin wallet to fund multiple parts of the operation - meaning once the FBI found that 1 wallet address, they had a record of everything right in front of them.  It's like the evidence was handed over to investigators on a silver platter.

Bitcoin's main feature is the "public ledger" - a record of transactions out in the open for the entire world to see.  In other words, Bitcoin's main feature is what would scare any intelligence agency away from using it in a serious covert operation.

In 2017 the MIT Technology Review published an article titled "Criminals Thought Bitcoin Was the Perfect Hiding Place, but They Thought Wrong" which explains how Bitcoin is actually being used against those who it to commit crimes:

"But while Bitcoin users can withhold their identities, they can’t avoid revealing other information that can be useful to investigators. Every Bitcoin transaction is recorded on its blockchain, a publicly accessible record of all transactions made using the currency. Blockchains “provide a really useful source of truth,” says Jonathan Levin, cofounder of Chainalysis, which develops software tools for analyzing blockchain data. Its products can help investigators draw inferences about how people are using the currency."

Here in America, the press has hyped up Russian intelligence operations as "extremely sophisticated" but that narrative falls apart immediately upon hearing they used Bitcoin.

Could it be... they're actually largely technically incompetent? That feels hard to say too, given what we know.

So, somehow they managed to pull off things like"DNCLeaks" and "Guccifer 2.0" and even supplied Wikileaks with stolen documents - all things that would take an extremely tech savvy operation to do. But then while doing all that, these same people were also unaware all their financial transactions using Bitcoin were exposed for the entire world to see?

You read about parts of it and think to yourself "wow, this really took some genius to pull off" then a minute later read something else, like them using Bitcoin, that then has you saying "how could they be so stupid?"

It feels strange to close an article without a conclusion - but the point of this piece is to highlight how I just cannot come to one. I'm not an expert in any of this - except the use of Bitcoin, and I cannot fathom a reason a covert operation would use it.

You might ask "well what would be a more secretive way the Russians could have made these purchases?" frankly - practically anything. The first thing that comes to mind would be a prepaid visa/mastercard debit card, purchased with cash - they're available everywhere from grocery stores to Walmart's.

This story is possibly the oddest confusing combination of masterful digital espionage, and complete technical illiteracy I've ever seen.
Author: Ross Davis
E-Mail: Twitter:@RossFM
San Francisco News Desk

Nuclear scientists ARRESTED for trying to mine Bitcoin on government supercomputers...

An entire group of scientists working at a top secret Russian nuclear lab were arrested by security forces - in what they're calling a "plot to mine Bitcoin" using the governments high powered supercomputers. 

"There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining." says the press office at the Federal Nuclear Centrer.

The alarm bells went off within Russia's cyber security agency when the supercomputers went online.  The computers are never supposed to be connected to the internet, to prevent any possible hacking attempts.

This specific base is so heavily protected, the entire town it's located in, known as 'Sarov' isn't even listed on maps in Russia, and permits are needed to even get within several miles of it.

Author: Ross Davis
San Francisco News Desk

Breaking: Russia moves to ban cryptocurrency exchanges...

Today, Russia's first deputy director of their central bank, Sergei Shvetsov stated "the government will block cryptocurrency exchanges".

However, no date has been announced yet, giving Russian investors a chance to dump in the meantime - which may be the reason for some recent downturns.

Russia based news site "RBC" reported that Shvetsov is currently working with the special prosecutor's office to implement the cryptocurrency exchange block.

It's also worth mentioning the first time the subject came up in September we learned Russia was working on "new legislation" to cover cryptocurrencies, so perhaps this shut down is temporary until regulations are passed.

However - Russia's central bank has consistently expressed their anti-crypto stance. So there's a chance these new regulations will be so strict, Russia will be left completely out of the market.

We are following this story closely and will keep you updated on new developments.

Author: Ross Davis
San Francisco News Desk