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Big Crypto Exchanges Resist Banning Russian Users

Two of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, Coinbase and Binance, refuse to kick Russian users out while refuting possibility of money laundering.

Coinbase
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This story is part of War in Ukraine, CNET's coverage of events there and of the wider effects on the world.

Coinbase and Binance, two of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, have refused to ban Russian users from either platform.

Though tech companies around the world have responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by restricting service or sales, both these cryptocurrency exchanges have resisted shutting off access to Russian users despite criticism from regulators, as Reuters reported. Both Coinbase and Binance have said they're complying with international sanctions rules and will obey further restrictions if required, including a full ban. 

Both defended their decisions to continue allowing Russian users access to their platforms as fair treatment, and a potential necessity given the country's economic turmoil.

"We believe everyone deserves access to basic financial services unless the law says otherwise," Coinbase CEO and co-founder Brian Armstrong wrote in a series of tweets. "Some ordinary Russians are using crypto as a lifeline now that their currency has collapsed. Many of them likely oppose what their country is doing, and a ban would hurt them, too."

The exchanges pushed back on the notion that Russians would use crypto to launder vast sums of money, with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao arguing in a blog post that limited global use, very low market caps relative to Russia's $1.5 trillion GDP, and the traceability of crypto make it a poor method for moving a nation's wealth.