Sun. Aug 7th, 2022
BitRiver’s crypto mining farm. Source: Adobe/hlxandr

The US has imposed sanctions on a Russian Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto mining firm in a bid to deter Moscow’s possible evasion of existing sanctions, imposed as punishment over its invasion of Ukraine.

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has added BitRiver, a major operator of BTC and crypto mining data processing centers in Eurasia, as well as 10 of its subsidiaries, to its Specially Designated Nationals list. This is the first time the government agency has designated a virtual currency mining company.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Treasury said it is targeting Russia’s virtual currency mining industry in order to ensure “that no asset, no matter how complex, becomes a mechanism for the Putin regime to offset the impact of sanctions.”

“By operating vast server farms that sell virtual currency mining capacity internationally, these companies help Russia monetize its natural resources,” the statement said. “Russia has a comparative advantage in crypto mining due to energy resources and a cold climate.”

Founded in Russia in 2017, Bitriver currently operates out of three offices across Russia. According to its website, the crypto miner is the “world’s largest hosting provider for green cryptocurrency mining” and has a capacity of more than 300 MW.

The US has also expanded its wide raft of sanctions to include a Russian commercial bank and dozens of businesses and individuals who purportedly were helping Russia evade sanctions imposed by the US and its allies.

The move by the US comes at a time when Russia is preparing to ramp up its crypto mining operations. As reported, in late March, Oleg Ogiyenko, a director at BitRiver, announced that “supplies of equipment for cryptocurrency mining to Russia” would “not be suspended.”

And more recently, Anatoly Aksakov, a senior MP and the State Duma’s Chairman of the Committee on Financial Markets, suggested the country legalize crypto mining and allow only industrial miners to continue operations.

The MP also noted that Russia could hugely profit from the taxation of mining revenues.

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