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People Are Sending Millions in Bitcoin to Aid Ukraine's Military as Russia Advances

·2 min read
Valentyn Semenov / EyeEm

A bitcoin wallet listed by a charity organization claiming to support the Ukrainian military has received almost 124 bitcoins worth around $4.8 million, according to data from Blockchain.com.

The address in question has been active since at least August 2021, but the vast majority of the 1,847 recorded transactions took place in February, many of them in the last 72 hours. According to Elliptic's Tom Robinson, the charity received a single $3 million donation in bitcoin on Friday, as well as close to $400,000 in bitcoin on Thursday.

Donations have been pouring into Ukraine as it braced for an invasion by Russia. On Thursday, Russia launched a full blown military assault on the country. Russian forces recently reportedly captured the infamous Chernobyl power plant. The U.S., among other nations, has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia as the offensive continues.

Crypto markets took a big hit on the invasion news Thursday evening, liquidating around $242 million in mere hours. In Ukraine, people have started to seek out crypto as a safe haven, said Michael Chobanian, founder of the Ukrainian crypto exchange Kuna, during an interview on CoinDesk TV's "First Mover" program on Wednesday.

Social media posts that listed the bitcoin wallet address (Bc1qkd5az2ml7dk5j5h672yhxmhmxe9tuf97j39fm6) among other methods of donation have been shared widely since at least Tuesday. The project collecting the funds, called “Come Back Alive,” claims to be assisting Ukraine’s military efforts. The wallet in question has already disbursed $150,000 worth of bitcoin it has received so far.

“All funds received by the Charitable Foundation are used exclusively for the needs of the army,” the organization states on its website, pointing to a live spreadsheet used for reporting transactions.

The last transactions reported are from Feb. 23.

Separately, according to a post calling for donations to support Ukraine’s armed forces, the country’s ministry of defense cannot accept crypto donations under national legislation. Crypto users flocked to a Twitter post from the Ukraine asking for donations to its army, and urged the ministry to set up a crypto wallet; none has been set up so far.

Meanwhile, another bitcoin wallet, this one set up by the Ukrainian English-language news publication Kyiv Independent, has received around $5,500 in donations. The publication said the donations will help to continue reporting on the conflict.

UPDATE (Feb. 24, 22:51 UTC): Updated with information from Elliptic in second graph.

UPDATE (Feb. 25, 18:48 UTC): Updated with latest fundraising figures in deck and first and second graphs.