Cross-border, censorship-evading cryptocurrencies play ‘important role’ in fundraising for Russia-Ukraine crisis

Recently, as tensions on the Russian-Ukrainian border continued to escalate, data showed that Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups are using bitcoin donations to crowdfund funds to strengthen the country’s armed forces.

Ukrainian NGOs and volunteers have grown as fears of a Russian attack on Ukraine grow, according to a new report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic , CNBC reported on Feb. 9. Bitcoin donations received by groups ballooned to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some of these organizations are using the funds to provide auxiliary military equipment to government forces, or to directly finance the provision of armed materials and manpower.

These Ukrainian NGOs are generally funded by private donors, who donate millions of dollars through bank wires and payment apps, the report noted. “Cryptocurrency donations still represent a fraction of the contributions received by parties to the conflict, but it has proven to be an increasingly popular alternative financing method,” Elliptic wrote.

Tom Robinson, chief scientist at Elliptic, said: “Cryptocurrencies are increasingly being used to crowdfund war, with the tacit approval of governments.”

“Cryptocurrency is particularly suitable for international fundraising because it can defy borders and censorship, there is no central authority to stop transactions, so it is very useful in situations such as evading sanctions,” Robinson said.

Reports show that these civic organizations and groups raised only $6,000 in cryptocurrencies in 2020. And in 2021, cryptocurrency donations to these organizations jumped to more than $570,000, a 900% increase from the previous year.

The report also stated that Ukrainian civil society will use the cryptocurrencies raised for various purposes, including purchasing military equipment, medical supplies and drones for the Ukrainian army, as well as funding the development of facial recognition applications to identify Russian mercenaries or mercenaries. spies etc.

A Ukrainian group called Come Back Alive began accepting cryptocurrency donations in 2018 to provide the military with weapons, training services and medical supplies. The group said the bitcoin donations they received ballooned to $200,000 in the second half of 2021.

Another group, the Ukrainian Cyber ​​Alliance, says it only raises funds through cryptocurrencies. In the past year, the group has received nearly $100,000 worth of bitcoin, litecoin, ethereum and various stablecoins. The Elliptic report said members of the group have been involved in cyberattacks against Russian targets since 2016.

The Myrotvotrets Center, an NGO based in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, which has been accepting cryptocurrency donations since 2016, is developing a facial recognition app that can identify “rebels, rebels, rebels, rebels” from photos. Russian mercenaries and war criminals”. So far, the Peacemakers Center says it has received more than 100 bitcoin donations, raising at least $267,000.

In addition, the report also noted that as some Ukrainian civic organizations that receive cryptocurrency donations have very close ties with the country’s government, this “promotes the trend of the country using cryptocurrencies as a means of financing.”

Since the second half of 2021, Ukraine is taking various measures to accept cryptocurrencies at the national level.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law in July 2021, officially authorizing the country’s central bank to issue its own Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), according to bitcoin information website Coindesk.

According to Euronews, in September of the same year, the Ukrainian parliament almost unanimously passed a bill to legalize and regulate virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies. At present, the Ukrainian president and parliament are having repeated discussions on this bill. If the bill passes, it will greatly push the country’s encryption technology out of the legal gray area.

The country plans to open the cryptocurrency market to businesses and investors by 2022, and senior government officials have also been peddling their cryptocurrency street credit to Silicon Valley investors and venture capital funds, the Kyiv Post reported.

During an official state visit to the U.S. in August 2021, Zelensky spoke of a “legitimate innovation market for virtual assets” brewing in Ukraine as a selling point for attracting investment. Ukraine’s digital transformation minister Fedorov said that Ukraine is modernizing the payments market so that its central bank can issue a digital currency

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