Status: 06.12.2022 12:17 p.m.
Russia is apparently planning to legalize cryptocurrencies again. If Moscow processed its imports of sanctioned goods with virtual money, these would be even easier to conceal.
In fact, the Russian central bank has always been skeptical of cryptocurrencies. It was only in July that the payment of goods and services with virtual money was prohibited by law. However, under the pressure of Western sanctions, a reversal has now set in.
According to information from the State Duma, cryptocurrencies are to be legalized again in the coming year – primarily to mitigate the consequences of Western sanctions. “(Cryptocurrency) can be well used in international payment transactions,” the head of the State Duma’s finance committee, Anatoly Aksakov, said on Monday, according to the daily “Kommersant”. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin had already said in September that the responsible authorities would agree on a unified position on this issue by the end of the year.
“Parallel import” to circumvent sanctions
Aksakov has openly stated the reason for this reversal: it is to ensure “parallel import”. This is the official description of importing goods without the express permission of the manufacturer – essentially circumventing Western trade sanctions.
Parallel import is an essential tool in supplying Russia with goods urgently needed to maintain Russian production. Sanctioned goods are purchased via third countries. In addition to armaments, these are mainly high-tech products and components for the electronics industry such as semiconductor chips, but also machines and systems.
Limited western control options
Trade experts also see a key aspect of their effectiveness in the West’s ability to enforce its sanctions against third countries. But the capacities for control and political influence on many third countries are limited, which suggests that these parallel imports are on a large scale. With the use of cryptocurrencies, it would be even easier to obfuscate these transactions.
Official trade data has not been released in Russia since the summer. According to a recent study by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), more goods are arriving at Russian ports despite sanctions – mainly due to Chinese and Turkish deliveries.