According to Moscow officials, President Vladimir Putin has commissioned work on establishing a national crypto-currency. Now, Russia is not the first country to consider establishing their own crypto-currency. In December 2017 it became known that Israel is considering the launch of a crypto-shekel in order to create a faster payment system as well as reduce the country’s reliance on cash. If the Bank of Israel gives the project a green light, the government is said to be ready to include it in its 2019 budget. However, where Russia appear to differ from Israel is the intension behind the creation of a crypto-rouble.
According to Western media, Putin intends to utilise the crypto-rouble to help circumvent sanctions imposed on Russia by Western nations.
What makes this development so interesting is what it could potentially mean for the future of international relations. If a national crypto-currency can be used as a tool to circumvent sanctions imposed on a country, then the imposers of sanctions would lose leverage. How then would the international community react? Such a development may force a restructuring in how Western nations and the international community manage relations with countries that it considers to have acted out of order and or unlawfully.
International agencies such as the United Nations frequently utilise sanctions but if countries, such as Iran and North Korea, follow the Russian example and establish national crypto-currencies, giving them, very simply put, a way to bypass sanctions, what would the implications be for international relations and diplomacy? Such a development could potentially give these nations more autonomy in their policies and decision-making and force the international community to turn to alternative tools. It might therefore be time for the international community to consider the implications that developments in cyber and technology will have on the traditional ways of conducting international relations and diplomacy.