Blockchain This Week – A Week Dominated by Ukraine – Russia Crisis, and the Role of Crypto

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Ukraine Accepts Crypto Donations

Late last week, the official Twitter account of the Ukraine government announced that the government is accepting crypto donations. Initially, bitcoin, ether, and USDT were accepted. Over the course of the week, the Ukraine government is allowing donations in Polkadot, TRON, Dogecoin, and Solana. Besides, crypto exchange Uniswap has added a function to enable donors to convert any Ethereum based digital currencies into ether and send it to the Ukrainian government. 

Crypto Donations Apportioned

As per Michael Chobanian, the founder of Kyiv based crypto exchange Kuna, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry is in charge of deciding how the donated crypto gets spent. Though the government has not revealed how the funds are allocated, a portion of the donations received in the government’s digital wallets, set up by Kuna, is said to be utilized to purchase critical supplies, including food and gas and military supplies.

Ukraine Vice PM Calls for Ban of Russian Crypto Users 

Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov took to Twitter to urge crypto exchanges to block addresses linked to not only Russian and Belarusian politicians but the countries’ citizens as well. But, crypto exchanges Coinbase, Binance, and Kraken have refused to impose such a blanket ban.

Binance Donates $10M

Binance announced that it is donating $10 million to provide emergency relief to Ukrainian refugees and children. The crypto exchange will disburse the funds through organizations, including UNICEF, UNHCR among others. Furthermore, it has launched a crypto crowd funding project – Humanity First – Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund – with a target of $20 million earmarked towards humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. At the time of writing, crypto worth $6,884,795.90 was raised.

UkraineDAO Raises $3M

UkraineDAO, a decentralized organization, set up to support Ukrainian soldiers, has raised over $3 million in crypto so far. This effort is a collaboration of the people from PleasrDAO, NFT studio Trippy Labs, and Russian art collective Pussy Riot.

Wood’s $5M Donation

Polkadot founder Gavin Wood replied to the Ukraine government’s tweet for crypto donation with a proposal to donate $5 million if Ukraine were to post a Polkadot address. Shortly after, the official handle of the Ukrainian government tweeted an address. Wood followed through and sent 298,367 DOT, amounting close to $5.8 million to the address. But not everyone was happy, and several of them took to Twitter to rebuke Wood for taking advantage of the perilous situation in Ukraine to promote his crypto coin.

NFTs Also Play a Role

The donations to the Ukraine Government also came from NFTs and proceeds from NFT sales. A CryptoPunk NFT worth over $200,000 was sent to the government’s Ethereum address. Meanwhile, a donation worth $1.86 million, supposedly from the proceeds of the sales of NFTs created by Julian Assange and digital artist Pak was also made.

Ukraine Announces and Then Cancels Crypto Airdrops

Initially, the government of Ukraine announced an airdrop, the act of disbursing free crypto to communities, following the surge in crypto donations since last week. The country’s Deputy PM and Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, later canceled the airdrop. Instead, he stated that there are imminent plans of launching NFTs to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Ukrainians Are Buying Bitcoin

A report released this week from Arcane Research reveals that both Ukrainian and Russian trade volumes have soared. It indicates that while Ukrainians are buying Bitcoin heavily, the USDT – Russian Ruble (USDTRUB) pair has also reached a new all time high.

Crypto Scams on the Rise Alongside Donations

An expected yet distasteful side effect of people rushing to donate to a well deserved cause is that the same emotionally charged populace gets duped by vicious actors capitalizing on such opportunities to run their own scams. The same is the case here. The tech news outlet Bleeping Computer has warned of numerous new “help Ukraine” scams mushrooming today. The fraudsters are using a wide range of tactics, including phishing emails that appears to have come from the UNHCR or NPR and forum posts seemingly linked to the Help Ukraine movement.

EU is “Taking Measures” To Avoid Russia Circumvent Sanctions With Crypto 

In a news conference this week, the French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire announced that the 27 nation European Union (EU) is devising measures to ensure Russia does not resolve to use crypto to get around the sanctions imposed by the EU. The sanctions include freezing Russian central bank assets and disconnecting seven banks from SWIFT.

And Finally, Ukraine Has Received Over $56M Crypto Donations So Far

According to Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, the Ukrainian government and an NGO supporting the military have so far collectively received $56.8 million through over 113,000 crypto donations. Among these are $5.8 million from Polkadot’s Gavin Wood and $200,000 worth CryptoPunk NFT. The total value of funds received by the Ukrainian government is $48.4 million.

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