More than $4 million worth of cryptocurrency donations poured in for Ukraine on Saturday hours after Ukrainian officials took to Twitter to plead for help in the fight against a Russian invasion, adding to more than $5 million worth of crypto that non-governmental organizations and volunteer groups in the country have raised since the invasion started on Thursday.
By about 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, cryptocurrency wallet addresses linked to the Ukrainian government had received nearly $4.3 million in cryptocurrency donations, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.
The influx of support came hours after Ukrainian government officials said on their Twitter accounts that the government would begin accepting cryptocurrency donations, urging users to “stand with the people of Ukraine” and linking to two separate cryptocurrency addresses tied to bitcoin, ether and stablecoin tether.
The quick jump in donations was buoyed largely by a “strange” single donation worth nearly $1.9 million, Elliptic Chief Scientist Tom Robinson wrote in a Saturday email, adding that wallet addresses indicate the donation originated from the sale of non-fungible tokens intended to raise funds for Australian WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Earlier this month, an online auction for several NFTs raised more than $52 million worth of cryptocurrency to help fund Assange’s legal defense as he faces extradition to the United States over 18 criminal charges including conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and obtaining national defense information.
Members of AssangeDAO, the team behind the auction, did not immediately respond to Forbes’ requests for comment on social media.
As of Saturday afternoon, thousands of cryptocurrency donations to the Ukrainian government and non-governmental organizations providing support to its military have helped raise nearly $10 million since last week, including more than $4 million to Kyiv-based Come Back Alive, according to Elliptic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine early Thursday.At least 198 Ukranians and wounded more than 1,000 others, Ukraine Health Minister Viktor Liashko said on Saturday. On Friday, President Joe Biden authorized the U.S. State Department to provide up to $350 million worth of additional weapons to Ukraine, joining nations like the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, which have pledged military equipment including air defense rockets, machine guns and fuel.
Coming a week after the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill to legalize cryptocurrencies, the donations to Ukraine “add to a trend of nation-states turning to crypto assets as a means of raising funds,” Elliptic noted in a report this month. “Iran is using bitcoin mining as a way to monetize its energy reserves, while North Korea is believed to be stealing cryptocurrency to support its missile development program.”