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Ukraine raises over $13 million in crypto to help fight Russian invasion

Crowdfunding is now a military tool.

A man walks past a cryptocurrency exchange point in the center of Kyiv, Ukraine on 24 January 2022. Bitcoin dropped below $34 000, to six-month low, as fears of war in Ukraine shake stock markets, according to media. (Photo by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|February 28, 2022 9:56 AM

Ukraine isn't just relying on foreign government aid to finance its defense against the Russian invasion. According to Reuters, Elliptic reports the Ukranian government has raised over $13 million ($13.6 million as of this writing) in cryptocurrency from more than 18,000 contributors after it launched a crowdfunding effort on February 26th to bolster its fight. The country has raised a total of $20.9 million since the invasion began, but got its biggest lift when it published wallet addresses for Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether on Saturday.

The nation's digital transformation ministry told Reuters it would use the crypto to "destroy as much [sic] Russian soldiers as possible." Unofficial efforts like Come Back Alive and Support Ukranian Sovereignty have also raised cryptocurrency to support the Ukraine military and local charities.

The actions come as cryptocurrency exchanges have partially clamped down on Russia. Finbold and Reuters note Binance has already restricted crypto accounts affected by sanctions against Russia, while Kraken is warning Russians their accounts might be frozen if there's a "legal requirement" to do so. Both exchanges have ruled out blanket bans for all Russian users despite Ukranian Vice Prime Minister Mykhalio Fedorov calling on major exchanges to "sabotage ordinary users" in addition to addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians.

The cryptocurrency donations are tiny compared to the conventional aid Ukraine has received so far. The US government alone contributed $350 million in military support this past weekend. The amount is still significant, though, and it's a novel concept — a country is directly requesting crypto to fuel its military and defend its existence.