David Carlisle, director of policy and regulatory affairs at blockchain analysis firm Elliptic, said that mining as a way to obtain bitcoin is not difficult for the Russian government or certain entities under sanctions.
They can be turned into goods and services, or just cash. Countries such as Iran may have taken advantage of the mining of highly energy-intensive cryptocurrencies, converting their sanctioned energy into bitcoinand government hard currency.
About 4.5 percent of bitcoin mining activity last year took place in Iran, potentially generating $1 billion in revenue for the Iranian government, Carlisle said. Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus have become the two most popular countries, and some miners have migrated to Central Asia and Eastern Europe, including Russia.
Carlisle listed non-compliant entities such as crypto mining, cybercrime and certain crypto exchanges as three possible channels through which Russia could weaken sanctions. However, given the size of Russia’s economy and financial markets, cryptocurrencies are unlikely to play a significant role in helping Russia evade sanctions.