Ukraine war is being crowdfunded through cryptocurrencies, experts say

CryptocurrenciesTHE WAR BETWEEN RUSSIA and Ukraine is being crowdfunded with the use of cryptocurrencies, making it history’s first major conflict to occur in the era of cryptocurrencies, according to observers. Crowdfunded conflicts are not new phenomena. In the years following its establishment, Israel is believed to have raised $50 million from individual donors around the world for its army. In the 1970s, militant groups like the Irish Republican Army solicited steady streams of donations from expatriate communities. The difference in this war is the pervasive nature of the Internet and cryptocurrencies, which have become “another front” in the quickly escalating conflict in Ukraine.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s science correspondent, James Purtill, points out that some aspects of this war are being increasingly impacted by decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). DAOs are member-owned online communities that engage in crowdfunding activities outside of any government-mandated regulatory framework. They are not governed by boards of directors, but instead maintain their financial transaction records on a blockchain. They therefore operate in a legal grey zone, which is facilitated with the use of cryptocurrencies in financial transactions.

Purtill notes that, in recent years, the administration of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had aspirations to become the world’s most cryptocurrency-friendly country. It was therefore not a surprise when, just minutes after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, the government in Kiev launched an official cryptocurrency fund, named Crypto Fund of Ukraine. As of Monday, the fund had amassed over $22 million and was continuing to grow exponentially. Communities of pro-Ukrainian DAOs, such as Come Back Alive, have mushroomed around these cryptocurrencies, and have raised substantial donations, which are now being used to equip the Ukrainian army and volunteer militias.

There is also concern among experts that the Russian government, as well as individual pro-Kremlin oligarchs, may resort to using cryptocurrencies in order to evade international sanctions. Notably, the use of cryptocurrencies may allow Moscow to overcome the barriers posed by its exclusion from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT), which is the global standard for secure financial transactions. Last weekend, Kiev issued calls to the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges to block Russian clients, including the Russian government, from conducting transactions. However, experts point out that it is extremely difficult to prevent specific users—including governments— from trading on the blockchain, given its decentralized nature.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 02 March 2022 | Permalink

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