Ukraine receives close to US$100 million in crypto donations
In the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, people worldwide are continuously showing support for Ukraine, especially through financial donations.
Notably, cryptocurrencies have played a huge part in generating donations,which are made possible through speedy transactions and immunity to restrictions from financial institutions.
Ukrainian officials have been continuously calling for support on Twitter, and expressing their acceptance of popular cryptocurrencies in the likes of Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether. Since then, the Ukrainian government and an NGO providing support to the military have raised around US$ 63.8 million from over 120,000 crypto asset donations, according to blockchain tracking company, Elliptic. Ukrainian Deputy Minister Bornyakov announced that more than US$ 60 million was received by Kuna, a Ukrainian crypto exchange while the rest was accepted by several other smaller funds.
Among these donations include a single donation of US$ 5.8 million from Polkadot founder Gavin Wood. Another single donation of $1.86 million was transacted, which is believed to have come from part of the proceeds from an NFT sale originally organised by Julian Assange and crypto artist Pak. A CryptoPunk NFT worth around US$ 200,000 was also donated to the Ukrainian government.
Nadya Tolokonnikova, known as the co-founder of the “conceptual protest art group” Pussy Riot, formed a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) named Come Back Alive with PleasrDAO and Trippy Labs members. Together, they launched their first NFT collection and raised more than US$3 million in ETH over the weekend to support the Ukrainian military, volunteers, their families and several other NGOs supporting Ukraine.
"Blockchain allows us to scale our efforts in a way that wasn't possible for us before," Ms. Tolokonnikova said. "The old ways of raising money sometimes are really slow and just clumsy."
Big names in the crypto industry have also been quick to rally behind to support Ukraine's cause. Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO and founder of FTX, donated US$ 250,000 in Tether, while Chain.com CEO Deepak Thapliyal donated about US$ 277,000 worth of ETH. Binance also pledged a US$10 million donation and planned to launch a crowdfunding site to help fight against Russia.
In an interview, Elliptic founder Tom Robinson commented, "Whereas some crowdfunding and payments companies have refused to allow donations to be made to groups supporting the Ukrainian military, cryptocurrencies have emerged as a powerful alternative."
He was likely referring to Patreon, which took down Come Back Alive's donation page, claiming it violated the company's policy. "We don't allow Patreon to be used for funding weapons or military activity," the company said in a statement.
As part of the Ukraine support efforts, an Ethereum based token crowdfunding project called Help Ukraine ($HUKR) was launched a few days ago. Its proceeds have already exceeded US$20 million and have been going to a fundraiser called Support Ukrainian Sovereignty, which plans to distribute its funds amongst various Ukrainian charities.
Although Ukraine has been enjoying a considerable amount of financial support especially in Bitcoin and Ether, as well as NFTs, many still fear it is not enough to stand against Russia. Ukraine's defense budget for last year was about US$ 4 billion, barely a tenth of Russia's military budget.