Since the beginning of the Russian incursion on Thursday, donations, including those made with cryptocurrencies, have poured into Ukraine.
According to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, Come Back Alive, a Kyiv-based nonprofit that supports the Ukrainian army, raised over $400,000 in bitcoin in the first few hours. The organization’s wallet appears to have received 109 BTC (roughly $4.1 million) in total over more than a thousand donations as of 5:30 a.m. ET Friday.
Come Back Alive was founded in 2014 and derives its name from the messages written on the first bulletproof vests supplied to soldiers fighting rebel and Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine by its founder, IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. It is now one of the country’s largest non-governmental groups, generating funds to support Ukraine’s military with essential supplies and equipment like drones, thermographic cameras, and specialist software. The organisation started receiving bitcoin in 2018, but the majority of the tokens it now owns come in the last few days. The charity also takes bank transfers and contributions through Patreon membership (currently suspended).
According to Elliptic’s February 8 report, over $500,000 in cryptocurrency was raised by Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups in the previous year. By identifying bitcoin wallets used by these groups, the business was able to follow the funds. The Ukrainian Cyber Alliance, for example, a group of activists who carry out cyberattacks on Russian targets, has received roughly $100,000 in bitcoin and ether.
In an earlier article, Elliptic stated that “several of the Ukrainian volunteer groups and NGOs receiving crypto donations have very close links to the Ukrainian government – and this adds to a pattern of nation-states resorting to crypto assets as a means of raising revenue.” “Iran is monetizing its energy reserves by mining Bitcoin, while North Korea is suspected of stealing bitcoin to fund its missile development programme.”
Ukraine’s politicians have been working hard for months to make their country into a new crypto sanctuary. The Ukrainian parliament passed a bill to legalise cryptocurrencies on Thursday, following on a similar effort in September that President Volodymyr Zelensky vetoed. He claimed that the country couldn’t afford to invest in new infrastructure.
Ukrainians are, in fact, among the most ardent cryptocurrency adopters. Ukraine is the world’s fourth largest cryptocurrency adopter, according to blockchain data firm Chainalysis. A slew of crypto activists and executives have called for solidarity for Ukraine this week. Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, tweeted yesterday that the company has handed $25 to each Ukrainian client. Ukraine DAO, a decentralised autonomous organisation intended to raise funding for Ukrainian citizen organisations, was also formed by Russian protest group Pussy Riot, Trippy Labs, and PleasrDAO.