A Ukrainian volunteer group that supplies equipment to the country’s military has received more than $4 million in bitcoin donations since Russia launched its invasion on Thursday, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
London-based Elliptic said earlier this month that donations to Ukrainian volunteer and hacking groups had skyrocketed as Russian troops gathered near the border. Since the invasion, however, it has tracked transfers of much larger amounts to these groups.
A Ukrainian volunteer group, Come Back Alive, received $3 million in a single bitcoin donation on Friday alone, Elliptic said, though the identities of those behind the donations were unclear because bitcoin and other tokens can be sent and received anonymously.
Rockets stormed Kiev on Friday and families crouched in air raid shelters as Russian troops pushed their advance and authorities said they were joining an attack aimed at overthrowing the government.
The Kiev-based Come Back Alive, which says it supplies equipment and medical supplies to the Ukrainian military, including drones and sniper rifles, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The group told Reuters earlier this month that it had raised $167,000 worth of cryptocurrency in more than a dozen transactions between August and early February. At the time, Come Back Alive said the money was left unused and that it was storing cryptocurrency-denominated donations for “future projects.”
The spike in donations underscores the growing role of cryptocurrencies in online fundraising, in part because anonymity allows organizations to raise funds even if financial firms don’t allow remittances or impose strict controls.
Ukraine tightened controls on money transfers in 2020 to curb money laundering and demanded identity verification for some domestic money transfers. Cross-border credit transfers are also subject to mandatory control.