• One NGO is reported to have received a single donation worth $3 million in bitcoin
  • Russia is also reportedly using crypto to bypass West-imposed sanctions

Cryptocurrency donations to the government of Ukraine have reached almost $19 million as the country continues to resist an invasion from a much larger Russian state, according to blockchain data analytics firm Elliptic.

Ukraine’s government and other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) providing military assistance have raised as much as $18.9 million, the firm reported in an updated blog post on Sunday.

Thousands of crypto donations began pouring into Ukrainian coffers amid the onset of the Russian invasion, which sparked a humanitarian crisis and drew condemnation from Western powers, including the US and the EU.

“Cryptoassets such as bitcoin have emerged as an important alternative crowdfunding method,” Elliptic said. “They allow quick, cross-border donations, which bypass financial institutions that might be blocking payments to these groups.”

Ironically, Washington is also reportedly considering crypto sanctions for fear Russia may use decentralized currencies to bypass sanctions imposed by Western nations, including the West’s move on Saturday to boot major Russian banks from the SWIFT interbank network.

“This isn’t actually the first time that crypto fundraising has been used in this conflict,” Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson told Blockworks. “Russian fundraising campaigns have requested crypto donations to support separatists in the Donbas region, although they didn’t manage to raise much.”

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital transformation, tweeted a request late Sunday urging major crypto exchanges to block addresses belonging to Russian users.

“It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians but also to sabotage ordinary users,” Fedorov said.

Blockworks attempted to contact Elliptic on that point but did not receive a reply by press time.

On Feb. 24, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Eastern Ukraine as part of a “military operation” that followed weeks of encirclement by Russian military personnel along Ukrainian borders.

Pleas for financial and military assistance from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy appear to have been met, in part, by the crypto community seeking to shoulder some of the economic costs of Ukraine’s armed conflict.

On Saturday, Twitter accounts belonging to the Ukrainian government appealed to the national community for financial assistance in crypto donations.

“Stand with the people of Ukraine,” one official tweet reads. “Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.”

Donations to the two addresses provided in the tweet have so far received $12.1 million across 15,947 transactions.

That figure included a single donation worth $1.86 million from NFT sales originally intended to raise funds for Australian activist Julian Assange, per the post.

A further $4.94 million in donations include those made to Ukrainian NGO Come Back Alive, as well as NFT (non-fungible token) donations such as Goat Soup #1189, valued at roughly $293, the firm said. Patreon has suspended Come Back Alive’s crowdfunding page on Thursday claiming the NGO had violated its policies by collecting funds for military activity.

One NGO is reported to have received a single donation worth $3 million in bitcoin, though the firm did not expressly state the recipient organization.

Get the day’s top crypto news and insights delivered to your inbox every evening. Subscribe to Blockworks’ free newsletter now.

  • Blockworks
    Senior Reporter, Asia News Desk
    Sebastian Sinclair is a senior news reporter for Blockworks operating in South East Asia. He has experience covering the crypto market as well as certain developments affecting the industry including regulation, business and M&As. He currently holds no cryptocurrencies. Contact Sebastian via email at [email protected]