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Kraken CEO fires back at Ukraine’s request to freeze Russian crypto: ‘Step 1 would be to freeze all U.S. accounts’

March 2, 2022, 9:23 PM UTC

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell has responded to calls for his company to freeze the crypto assets of Russians amid its attack on Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov publicly asked all major crypto exchanges to freeze accounts in a bid to further challenge Russia’s resources and stop the war.

But the cofounder of one of the most popular crypto trading venues in the U.S. has refused, explaining his position in a Twitter thread. While he has “deep respect” for the people of Ukraine, he said he believes crypto should enforce individualism, rather than nationalistic alliance to a country.

“Besides, if we were going to voluntarily freeze financial accounts of residents of countries unjustly attacking and provoking violence around the world, step 1 would be to freeze all U.S. accounts,” Powell wrote on Twitter. “As a practical matter, that’s not really a viable business option for us.”

His comments received widespread support on Reddit’s r/Cryptocurrency forum.

“I’m an [sic] Russian and I was really heartbroken when people suggested freezing our Crypto. We never wanted war, Putin is the reason we are suffering,” one user wrote on Reddit. “Down the streets we are also protesting against this invasion.”

Powell has said he will only freeze the accounts if he’s legally required to, a possibility he believes could be imminent as Russian attacks continue to intensify.

Many Russians have already invested in crypto, and the country ranks 18th globally for adoption.

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