On Saturday, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, the country’s official Twitter account tweeted out a call for donations through bitcoin, ethereum, and the stablecoin tether.
The vice prime minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Fedorov, confirmed on his Twitter account that the call for donations was real, and asked people to “[s]tand with [...] Ukraine.”
As of publication, these wallets have received over $4 million in cryptocurrency.
Yarema Dukh, a communications strategist who helped set up the official Ukraine Twitter account in 2016, confirmed to BuzzFeed News that the tweet and wallet were a legitimate government plan. He said he believed the cryptocurrency funds would go to “exterminate as many Russian occupants as possible,” but was not sure of exact government spending plans.
Initially, some people, including ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, were concerned that the tweet may have been from scammers who had hacked the account. After hearing from the vice prime minister, Buterin tweeted that he had received confirmation, but encouraged people to always be cautious when sending donations in cryptocurrency.
So far, according to the ledger, the largest donation of 100 ethers (approximately $278,000) has come from Deepak Thapliyal, the CEO of Chain.com, a blockchain technology company. “When I realized the Ukrainian government had requested donations in the form of crypto, I felt compelled to do my part to help,” Thapiyal told BuzzFeed News. “Crypto donations are borderless and near instant, so I am hoping that the government there can tap into it as soon as possible to help the people in need.”
Ukrainian NGOs and volunteer groups have a history of accepting bitcoin. The volunteer group Come Back Alive, which provides supplies to the Ukrainian military, has asked for donations in cryptocurrency since 2018, according to the blockchain analytics company Elliptic. In a report, Elliptic said that the government and NGOs have received $11 million in cryptocurrency donations since the invasion began Thursday.
The nation is particularly poised to handle cryptocurrency donations. This fall, it passed a law to legalize and regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, making it one of a handful of countries to have embraced cryptocurrency. Ukraine’s low taxes and large pool of tech talent have made it a cryptocurrency hub.
Correction: Yarema Dukh's surname was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
Elliptic updated its analysis to show $11 million in cryptocurrency donations to NGOs.