Russia’s unwanted presence in Ukraine has brought the global crypto community together.
Donations big and small are pouring in from every nook and corner of the world. In just a week, crypto industry leaders, prominent blockchain businesses, and anonymous crypto traders, among others, have donated more than $55 million worth of crypto to the official crypto wallets of Ukraine, not-for-profit organizations, and volunteers.
Such huge donations are usually processed the old-fashioned way through centralized banks. However, tech-savvy Ukraine was quick to realize that crypto is the fastest and easiest way to handle the flood of international donations. Known for its tech talent, Ukraine already legalized bitcoin and other cryptos back in 2021 and ranked fourth on Chainanalysis’ 2021 Global Crypto Index.
In general, the global crypto community has reacted positively, with messages of support across social media and fundraising to provide Ukraine with the financial aid it needs at this critical juncture.
“The Ministry of Digital Transformation initiated creating the Crypto Fund of Ukraine and set up with a partnership of Kyiv-based crypto exchange KUNA, which is providing us with tech infrastructure. We were able to raise more than $50 million in crypto assets and transferred these funds into fiat currency”, according to Alex Bornyakov, the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine.
Cultivating A Coordinated Community Effort
Just as Russian troops continued to invade Ukraine on the weekend, the Ukrainian government posted a series of tweets starting February 26, 2022. The first pinned tweet came from Ukraine’s official Twitter handle wherein the government requested everyone to stand with the people of Ukraine and announced that they are now accepting cryptocurrency donations in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and USDT (ERC-20). This tweet also listed the official crypto wallet addresses of the Ukrainian government.
After the initial tweet, the crypto community was quick to respond. Gavin Wood, the founder of Polkadot and Kusama, was among the first responders on March 27. Gavin tweeted that he would contribute $5 million worth of DOT tokens if the Ukrainian government accepted the tokens.
Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation on IT Industry Development, Alex Bornyakov, tweeted back to Wood, expressing his gratitude on behalf of Ukraine and shared the official DOT wallet address. Minutes later, Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine, confirmed the address. A few hours later, Ukraine’s official Twitter account announced their acceptance of DOT donations and added the official DOT wallet address to the original thread.
Not long after, on the same day, Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume, offered financial assistance through the Binance Charity Foundation in London. The platform committed to contributing a minimum of $10 million, of which 16,042 BNB (worth $6 million) has already been processed. On top of this, Binance has also launched the Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund, a crypto-first crowdfunding site to support crypto donations readily.
Not long after, Justin Sun, the founder of TRON, also came forward to support Ukraine. Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mikhail Fedorov had earlier tweeted the official Tron wallet address and confirmed they are now accepting USDT (TRC-20) donations in addition to USDT (ERC-20).
Following this, on February 28, 2022, Sun personally contributed $200,000 and then urged the community to contribute. According to the most recent data, the TRON community’s total contribution to the Ukrainian government’s official address has reached $1,227,807 in USDT (TRC-20) and TRX tokens. Also fulfilling his own pledge, Wood transferred 298,367 DOT (worth $5.7 million) to Ukraine’s DOT wallet shortly after that. The Polkadot community, alongside Wood, contributed a total of 309,939 DOT ($6.0 million) on March 1 alone.
“In a time of crisis, we can see that cryptocurrencies are saving for both Russia and Ukraine economies,” says Itay Levy, Co-founder of AdaSwap. “The crypto donations sent to Ukraine are very important for their resistance and are acting as a use-case for what crypto can mean for this world.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine is continuously expanding its list of accepted cryptocurrencies. On Wednesday, March 2nd, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov announced via a tweet that people can now contribute DOGE as well. Fedorov, who has been very active on Twitter since the war broke out, had earlier tweeted about Aid For Ukraine, a collaboration project between the Ukrainian government, Solana blockchain, and Everstake. With this, Ukraine is now officially accepting BTC, ETH, USDT (ERC-20 and TRC-20), TRX, DOT, SOL, and DOGE.
Besides exceptional community support from different crypto ecosystems, Ukraine’s latest confirmed airdrop announcement has prompted a surge in micro donations. According to the data from Etherscan, since Ukraine’s official Twitter handle confirmed an airdrop for donors who have supported its cause, transactions ranging from 0.0001 ETH to 0.01 ETH (worth between $0.30 to $30) have flooded the country’s Ethereum wallet. Dune Analytics estimates that the number of wallets that donated cryptocurrency in the first eighteen hours following the airdrop tweet has surpassed the total number of donor wallets before the tweet.
One thing worth mentioning is that this coordinated community effort showcases the potential of using crypto for the public good. Apart from the direct donations into the official Ukraine wallets, millions more in crypto have been raised by not-for-profit organizations, humanitarian foundations, and activists working in tandem with the Ukrainian government and its army.
Russian punk music group Pussy Riot, known for its “guerilla-style protest performances criticizing Putin”, launched UkraineDAO. Pussy Riot co-founder Nadya Tolokonnikova, in partnership with Trippy Labs and PleasrDAO, is selling 10,000 NFTs of the Ethereum-minted Ukrainian national flag. According to the latest tweet, UkraineDAO has already crossed $5 million in donations, $4.6 million from NFT sales and another $450,000 via direct donations.
Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive has started accepting crypto donations to fund Ukraine’s military as its donation page on the centralized fundraising platform Patreon was suspended for violating the company’s policies. Other notable nonprofits and charitable organizations currently accepting crypto donations for Ukraine include the Kyiv Independent, Nova Ukraine, and Endaoment.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation is spearheading another initiative to raise donations for military and humanitarian aid. As part of this initiative, the Ministry of Digital Transformation, powered by FRAME, will launch an NFT collection that documents the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. Not only will this NFT collection preserve the memory of the true events in a chronological manner, but it also aims to collect donations for supporting Ukraine. According to officials, 100% of funds from the sales of NFTs will be transferred directly to the crypto wallets of the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation.
As part of the contribution, the world’s oldest BTC mining pool Braiins donated 10 BTC plus part of its hashrate, and Web3’s humanitarian aid initiative RELI3F contributed 185 ETH to the Ukrainian government. Crypto exchange Uniswap, too, came forward with a new interface that enabled easy swap of ERC-20 tokens to ETH and then directly transferred it to the Ukrainian government’s ETH wallet in a single transaction.
“These days are the most horrifying for Ukrainians still in the country and those living across the world,” stresses Dmitry Tolok, the co-founder Primex Finance. “The Primex team would like to thank all the crypto community for their support when it’s needed the most.”
To further streamline the donations pouring in from all sides, the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation has launched another initiative, Aid for Ukraine, powered by cryptocurrency exchange FTX and staking service platform Everstake. FTX has taken the responsibility of converting all crypto funds received in fiat and sending them forward to the National Bank of Ukraine. This is the first time a cryptocurrency exchange is facilitating crypto donations to a public financial institution.
Elon Musk, too, came forward in support of Ukraine. Following a tweet request from a Kyiv official, the Tesla boss activated the Starlink satellite internet services in Ukraine. That done, Musk started doing what he is infamous for – trolling on the internet. The tech titan challenged Russian President Putin to one-on-one combat, with Ukraine as stakes.
Amid the raging war, Musk’s tweet generated a ton of smiles and giggles as everyone joined in on the fun, including Binance CEO CZ, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, and thousands of other brands, celebrities, and netizens. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, too, responded to the tweet claiming Putin would “destroy” Musk in single combat. Kazyrov seemed amused by Musk’s challenge and even offered tips on how to become stronger before facing Putin.
The Latest Numbers
Michael Chobanian, Founder of Kyiv-based KUNA Exchange and President of Blockchain Association of Ukraine, is posting continuous updates via his Twitter account. According to the most recent tweet, the official Ukrainian government wallets have received more than $50 million in crypto donations.
The key takeaways from the latest tweet and screenshot posted by Chobanian on March 9th as of 18:00 UTC+2 include:
- Official wallets of Ukraine have received 292.12 BTC worth $12,401,955
- A total of $1,543,813 in USDT and $3,752 worth of TRX has been donated to Ukraine’s TRON network wallet
- Other notable contributions include ETH, USDT, and multiple other ERC-20 tokens worth almost $30 million, almost $8 million in DOT, around $105,000 in BNB and other BSC tokens, more than $1.5 million in SOL and USDC, and roughly $100,000 in SNOWTRACE, DOGE, MATIC, and ARBISCAN tokens
- The total worldwide donation in the official wallets reached $53,020,597 as of March 9, 2022.
Of the total money received as of March 1, more than $14 million was already disbursed, highlighting the ease of distributing funds. A portion of the funds is being allotted by the Crypto Fund of Ukraine for critical medical supplies, gas, food, and civilian evacuations, with the remainder allocated by Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation to fund the army. While the donation figures paint one picture, an important takeaway from this unfolding war is how crypto and its accompanying community can create a groundswell of support for causes outside the cryptocurrency universe.
Crypto has long been viewed as speculative and has its fair share of detractors. Fewer can now challenge its efficacy given this spectacularly executed initiative. It clearly demonstrates how easily and transparently donor funds from your crypto wallet can be moved and allocated to support the bravest people in thew world that we are witness to, who alone, are proudly and staunchly defending their independence