Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy holds a press conference on the Russian military operation in Ukraine, February 25, 2022 in Kiev.
Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
The Ukrainian government has raised over $10 million in cryptocurrency donations, turning to an unlikely crowdfunding method to help it weather a brutal invasion from Russia.
The Ukrainian government’s official Twitter account posted the addresses of two crypto wallets on Saturday, one accepting only bitcoin and the other taking ether and tether, a token that tracks the value of the US dollar.
On Sunday, these wallets attracted $10.2 million worth of crypto, according to research by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. This is in addition to the millions in digital currency donated to non-governmental organizations supporting the Ukrainian military.
About $1.86 million of the money donated to the Ukrainian government was generated through the sale of a non-fungible token, or NFT, originally intended to raise money for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Elliptic said.
NFTs are unique digital assets designed to represent ownership of virtual items, such as artwork or video game characters.
The development shows how Ukraine is turning to crypto for help during the Russian military offensive in the country, which began on Thursday.
Come Back Alive, an NGO that provides equipment to the Ukrainian army, has been accepting crypto donations since 2018. It has raised millions of dollars worth of digital currency since the start of the Russian invasion.
Total crypto donations to the Ukrainian government and NGOs supporting the military now stand at $16.7 million, according to Elliptic.
“Crypto-assets such as Bitcoin have emerged as an important alternative method of crowdfunding,” Elliptic chief scientist Tom Robinson wrote in a blog post on Sunday. “They allow fast, cross-border donations, which bypass financial institutions that may block payments to these groups.”
Come Back Alive had its Patreon fundraising page suspended this week, with the company saying it “does not allow any campaign involved in violence or the purchase of military equipment”. Patreon allows users to receive monthly income through paid subscriptions.
Ukraine’s military initially suggested that it could not accept digital currency funds on bitcoin, with a statement on the government’s website stating that “national legislation does not allow the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine to use other payment systems (“Webmoney”, “Bitcoin”, PayPal,’ etc.).”
However, the government seems to have softened this position.
Separately on Sunday, Ukrainian Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on major crypto exchanges to block payments to Russian users.
“It is crucial not only to freeze addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users,” Fedorov tweeted.
The United States, its European allies and Canada agreed on Saturday to remove some Russian banks from Swift, the interbank messaging system. They also agreed to prevent Russia’s central bank from deploying its international reserves in a way that could undermine sanctions.