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Ukrainian volunteers crowdfund $4 million in crypto to aid military against Russia

Blockchain analysis firm says these groups have helped Ukraine since Donbas conflict started 8 years ago with money, arms, medical help.

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New Delhi: NGOs and volunteers have crowdfunded more than $4 million for Ukraine as the beleaguered country battles the second day of Russia’s full-scale invasion.

The donation is in the form of cryptocurrency to the country’s armed forces.

London-based blockchain analysis firm Elliptic on Friday published data that revealed crowdfunding had skyrocketed since Thursday, following the invasion.

“On 24 February alone, one NGO received over $675,000 in Bitcoin, and by 9.30 am on the 25th, it had already received more than $3.4 million – over $3 million of which was sent by a single donor. This pushes the total raised by these groups since the start of the invasion, to over $4 million,” Elliptic revealed.

This rise in donations forms part of a broader trend by Ukrainian volunteers and NGOs who have been at the forefront of organisational efforts since the conflict began eight years ago with the breakaway Donbas republics.

As part of a research blog published on 8 February, Elliptic had said that volunteer groups not only treated wounded protesters during the Euromaidan protests in Kyiv at that time, but also provided arms, soldiers and medical assistance at the frontlines in Donbas.

Eight years later, these volunteer groups have since embraced other technological avenues to extend their support to the Ukrainian military.

For instance, 2014-founded pro-Army NGO Come Back Alive began taking crypto donations in 2018, according to Elliptic, and continues to accept Bitcoin on its online payment gateway platform.

Similarly, the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, which was founded in 2016 to conduct cyberattacks on various Russian targets has historically and exclusively accepted crypto donations in the form of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin, Elliptic added.

Elliptic also named a Ukrainian government-linked NGO called the Myrotvorets Center, which has been accepting crypto-assets since 2016 and “adds to a trend of nation states turning to crypto-assets as a means of raising funds”.

Overall, Ukrainians’ increasing usage of cryptocurrency to help fund the defence against Russia is not the only time the country’s people have been heavily involved in new technologies.

As tweeted by Forbes Ukraine tech journalist Mike Sapiton, several prominent companies were established by Ukrainians or members of the Ukrainian diaspora.

These include WhatsApp, which was founded by Kyiv-born Jan Koum, Paypal, co-founded by Max Levchin, and Grammarly, which was started by Max Lytvyn, Alex Shevchenko and Dmytro Lider.

Also read: Ukraine can’t be protected without getting hands dirty. Reassurances don’t work for Russia


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