Ukraine Turns To NFTs and Crypto

Can decentralised technologies change the economics of war?

Ukraine Turns To NFTs and Crypto
Copyrights - Lorenzo Quinn

The crisis in Ukraine has prompted a wide variety of international responses. But unlike any other military conflict in history, a fragmented collection of individuals and organizations around the world have come together to fundraise using cryptocurrency and NFTs. Could this change the economics of war?

The Ukrainian government tweeted out their crypto wallet addresses on February 26, saying they are accepting cryptocurrency donations in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDT. Shortly afterwards, the government opened up a Polkadot wallet and received $5M in $DOT from Polkadot founder Gavin Wood. Recent calculations estimate that the Ukrainian government has received over $50M worth of donations in cryptocurrency, with several million coming in the form of NFTs. For example, a valuable CryptoPunk #5364 NFT was sent to the Ukrainian government's Ethereum wallet on March 1.

Several individuals, art galleries, and organizations are selling NFTs to help financially support Ukraine.

Ukrainian boxing legend Wladimir Klitschko is launching an NFT collection called "Vandalz for Ukraine: WhlsBe x Wladimir Klitschko," a collaboration with the artist WhlsBe. The proceeds will go to Red Cross Ukraine and UNICEF.

An NFT of the Ukrainian Flag sold for $6.75 Million on March 2 as part of UkraineDAO, a crowdfunding effort started by Russian art collective Pussy Riot and NFT studio Trippy Labs. Proceeds from the sale went to Come Back Alive, an organization that donates supplies to Ukrainian civilians and military. The sale came from a group of over 3,000 donors through PartyBid, a service that allowed people to pool their money in order to buy the full NFT.

NFT Marketplace SuperRare has an entire section of their website called 'For Ukraine, SuperRare Artists Support The Cause,' featuring a handful of artists who have created new artwork for Ukraine.

Art for Ukraine is an NFT fundraiser organized by a group of artists Amir Fallah, Sara Ludy, and Ana Maria Caballero. Each artist minted their own pieces as NFTs and the proceeds from the NFT sales will be funneled directly to Ukrainian charities through a smart contract. The organization also curated a show of Ukrainian NFT artists like Yura Miron and Philipp Kapustin by using digital gallery platform muse.place.

Most recently, the Ukrainian government has announced it will issue NFTs to help pay for the military. While the specifics of the NFT drop are still being finalized, it's a historic move by a country to officially launch a 'government-backed' NFT. Simultaneously through more traditional means, Ukraine has raised $270M by selling war bonds and is speaking with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to raise further funds. It's also worth remembering that the same Web3 technology is also available to Russian individuals and organizations affected by sanctions.

Throughout history, wars have been won or lost due to a given side's level of financial resources. We're seeing a future unfold where NFTs, DAOs, and Web3 technology can mobilize cultural movements and fundraise more quickly than ever before. There hasn't been a way for large, fragmented groups of people to do this easily until now, which could potentially impact economics of war.

Either way, it's clear that NFTs aren't just silly jpegs...