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Amid global tensions surrounding Ukraine and Russia, blockchain analytics firm Elliptic has published a report revealing that $570,000 worth of cryptocurrencies was donated to Ukrainian volunteer groups for the war against Russia in 2021.
The company’s analysis showed that last year, donations increased by 900% compared to 2020.
Ukrainian volunteer groups
As the report highlighted, volunteer groups have played a critical role in Ukraine’s conflicts over the past decade.
They emerged during the Maidan Revolution, which resulted in the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Furthermore, they had to intervene when Russia took Crimea.
The aim of these groups, according to the report, is to support the protesters and help the injured. They also provided soldiers, weapons and medical supplies.
“These groups are funded by private donors, who have used wire transfers and payment apps to donate millions of dollars. BTC has also emerged as an important alternative method of funding. It allows international donors to bypass financial institutions that are blocking payments to these groups.
In the report, Elliptic analyzed several groups that received cryptocurrency funding.
Come Back Alive
Founded in 20104, one of the largest organizations supporting the Ukrainian army is Come Back Alive. As Elliptic highlighted, the group provides a range of military equipment, training services and medical supplies.
The group started accepting crypto in 2018 and has seen a recent surge in BTC donations. About US$ 200,000 were received in the second half of 2021 alone.
Ukrainian Cyber Alliance
Another Ukrainian group that receives BTC donations is the Ukrainian Cyber Alliance. It is a collective of activists that has been engaged in cyberattacks against Russian targets since 2016.
According to the report, the group’s operations include attacks on propaganda websites, the Russian Defense Ministry and various individuals linked to Russian activities in Ukraine.
Unlike other groups, the Alliance’s public fundraising relies solely on cryptocurrency donations. Last year, the group received around $100,000 worth of BTC, LTC, ETH and stablecoins.
The Myrotvorets Center is, according to Elliptic, a controversial NGO. Based in Kiev, the group has strong links with the Ukrainian government and law enforcement agencies.
The Myrotvorets website publishes personal information about individuals considered “enemies of Ukraine”. Publications include Russian “war criminals”, mercenaries, propagandists and journalists.
The Myrotvorets Center has accepted cryptocurrency donations since 2016, after PayPal closed its account and seized its funds.
The organization claims to have received donations from over 40 countries, raising at least $268,000 through over 100 BTC donations.
Crypto Fundraising by Pro-Russia Separatists
Pro-Russian separatist groups have also joined in on digital currency donations.
“A series of online campaigns raised money for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, with donations channeled through Russian and foreign banks. These campaigns also accepted crypto donations,” the report reads.
Cryptocurrencies funding war against Russia? It’s not like that…
Ultimately, the report concluded that cryptocurrencies are a powerful tool for crowdfunding the war.
However, for most fundraisers examined in the investigation, cryptocurrencies accounted for a small proportion of the funds received.
After all, most donations were received through traditional payment methods such as bank transfers and online payment services.
“However, cryptocurrency has proven to be a robust and increasingly popular alternative (…) Cryptocurrency is also particularly suited to international donations, allowing easier access to wealthy donors abroad,” the report noted.