Ukraine turns crypto donations into 5,550 bulletproof vests, 500 helmets and more

As millions of dollars in cryptocurrency have flowed into Ukraine, the country has turned such donations into thousands of bulletproof vests, packed lunches, medicine items and other supplies for the armed forces.

Ukraine’s deputy minister of Digital Transformation Alex Bornyakov shared Friday a list of supplies that have been bought since March 1 using funds stemming from those crypto donations. It includes 5,550 bulletproof vests, 410,000 packed lunches and 500 helmets.

“Crypto assets proved extremely helpful in facilitation of funding flows to the Amed (sic) Forces of Ukraine,” said Bornyakov, who has been at the helm of the country’s efforts to secure cryptocurrency.

As much as $100 million worth of cryptocurrency has been donated since Ukraine's initial donation appeal. Besides different types of digital coins, the government has also received non-fungible tokens (NFTs), notably including CryptoPunk #5364, which sold for tens of thousands of dollars last year.

At least $15 million of those donations had been spent by last Friday, Bornyakov told Bloomberg. The minister also shared with CoinDesk that some weapons suppliers were actually accepting payments directly in crypto.

The same can’t be said about any type of weapon.

“We obviously can’t buy nuclear bombs or rockets,” Michael Chobanian, the chief executive of Ukrainian exchange Kuna.io that has helped the government manage crypto donations, told the Washington Post.

The way Ukraine moved to leverage crypto in the initial days of the conflict has drawn significant attention.

After Russian forces moved into Ukrainian territory, government officials called for donations in crypto and posted addresses on social media. And amid economic sanctions imposed against Russia by numerous countries, Ukrainian leaders have tried to pressure crypto exchanges into banning Russian accounts.

In the US, legislators and regulatory bodies have voiced concerns over whether crypto could be used to evade sanctions, though there have been no definitive signs of this type of action to date.

About Author

Catarina is a reporter for The Block based in New York City. Before joining the team, she covered local news at Patch.com and at the New York Daily News. She started her career in Lisbon, Portugal, where she worked for publications such as Público and Sábado. She graduated from NYU with a MA in Journalism. Feel free to email any comments or tips to [email protected] or to reach out on Twitter (@catarinalsm).