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Crypto: As the ruble plunges to less than a penny, dealings surge in Ukraine and Russia currency for bitcoin and stablecoins

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Trading volume of bitcoin and so-called stablecoins have surged in Russia and Ukraine’s local currencies on Binance, since Moscow laid siege to Kyiv.

The trading volume of USDT, a dollar-pegged stablecoin, using Russia’s ruble, hit an all-time high on Monday at around $34.9 million on the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, according to data from Tradingview. 

Binance: Daily Volume USDTRUB

Arcane Research, Tradingview (Binance)

Meanwhile, the trading volume between bitcoin and ruble also spiked, hitting $437 million on Feb. 24, when Russia launched its invasion, which is now in its sixth day. Volumes were marking the highest level since May.

“These volume increases could indicate that Russians seek stablecoins to get dollar exposure ahead of possible sanctions directed towards Russian crypto traders,” crypto research firm Arcane Research wrote in a Tuesday report. “However, the rising volumes could also be caused by market makers seeking to eliminate their ruble exposure.” 

Ruble is down about 25% against U.S. dollar since Monday, when the U.S. expanded its sanctions targeting Russia’s central bank. The currency is now changing hands at less than one U.S. cent. 

Sanctions levied by U.S. and its allies also include measures that remove some Russian banks from SWIFT, a payments-related messaging service based in Belgium that helps banks world-wide execute financial transactions, while there has been some speculation around whether Moscow could gain leeway through crypto.

Read more: Can Russia use cryptocurrencies to evade Western sanctions? Likely, to some extent, but it’s ‘very hard to do at scale,’ says one analyst

In addition, on Feb. 24, the trading volume of bitcoin and USDT in Ukrainian hryvnia, also jumped to the highest level since October, respectively.

“Many Ukrainians worry that the banking system in the country may collapse and are seeking crypto as a safe haven for their savings,” according to the Arcane report. 

The Ukrainian government, along with nongovernment groups backing the besieged nation, have raised more than $20 million of donations in cryptocurrencies, MarketWatch reported. 

About $7 million worth of bitcoin, $6.8 million worth of ether, $1.5 million in USDT and $137,000 in USDC have been sent to Ukrainian government, according to crypto intelligence firm Coin Metrics. 

Bitcoin
BTCUSD,
+5.20%

is trading at $43,966, up 6% over the past 24 hours, according to CoinDesk data.

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