Quick fundraising in cryptocurrencies, an army of volunteer hackers, and a strong voice on social media have all helped Ukraine put up an unexpectedly strong front against Russia’s invasion over the past three weeks.
The digital war has become a key pillar of Ukraine’s resistance, and the experience the country is accumulating in the sector could be key to its post-war reconstruction, Alex Bornyakov, the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, told Euronews Next.
In particular, Ukraine is hoping to eventually become a leader in the use of cryptocurrencies, which proved a lifeline in the early days of the war, when donations in digital coins came pouring in from around the world.
“It exceeded all of our expectations,” Bornyakov said in a video interview.
The state-run Crypto Fund of Ukraine – which accepts donations in digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum – has raised $55 million (around €50 million) so far. In terms of overall crypto donations to the country, this figure is more likely in the region of $100 million (€90 million), according to the latest estimates.
The Ukrainian government has already spent $34 million (€30 million) of that to buy bullet-proof vests, night vision goggles, helmets, medicine and food supplies for fighters on the front lines, Bornyakov said, speaking on Zoom via a Starlink internet terminal from an undisclosed location in Ukraine.
“Now we’re considering to help our government buy armoured vehicles, to get people back and forth because there’s a high probability of getting hit and we need armoured vehicles,” he said.
Using crypto instead of traditional financial institutions has made money transfers much faster and more nimble, he said, noting that in a war, time is crucial.
“You can imagine a bank transfer – if you send money and then you wait for two or three days,” he said. “In crypto, you just send the money and in five 10 minutes, the transaction is done”.
Even before the war, Ukraine ranked fourth in the world in terms of cryptocurrency…