Per a recent report from on-chain analytics firm Chainalysis, pro-Russia groups in Ukraine are raising funds in Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other cryptocurrencies to support their operations. The report claims these groups have raised a total of over $2.2 million using social media platforms.
As seen below, most of the donations have been made in Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), and USDT based on the TRON Network. The report has linked these funds to around a dozen social media accounts.
The Chainalysis report showed the following message as an example of the post shared across social media platforms looking to raise money in different cryptocurrencies. As the post shows, the funds’ proceeds are destined to purchase equipment and war material to oppose the Ukrainian forces:
(…) we have only 150 thousand rubles left to collect for a drone that will be able to bring “gifts” to the positions of our Ukrainian “friends.” We hope that we will be able to shoot it on video and delight you with interesting shots.
Other posts show that these militias are investing in medical supplies, such as first aid kits, communications hardware, SIM cards, weapon maintenance material, and more. The people in charge of this alleged account often provide their donors with detailed reports on the purchased equipment.
The report claims that even the groups with less success at raising funds can make a difference in the war efforts. The groups that collected around $1,000 could pool their funds to acquire radios and upgrade the militias’ reconnaissance capabilities with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) priced at $3,000.
Comparing Pro-Russia Militias Funds In Bitcoin With Ukraine’s
The report claims a portion of the funds raised by these militias are linked to organizations and individuals by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). These entities have publicly stated that they are looking for a way to circumvent international monetary restrictions via crypto and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
On the latter, Chainalysis records little success with many of the NFT offerings from these individuals recording zero bids before they are removed from the digital assets marketplace. Some of these entities have been identified as Project Terrico, Alexander Zhuchkovsky, Bitzlato, Rybar, Rusich, SouthFront, and others.
The report noted the following on the direct link between these individuals, the funds, and the pro-Russia groups:
Multiple social media account operators have indicated that donations sent to them will directly benefit the Donetsk People’s Militia and Luhansk People’s Militia, which appear to be affiliated with the Donbas People’s Militia, an organization sanctioned by OFAC on December 19, 2014.
However, the report acknowledged that the $2.2 million raised by these militias “pales in comparison to the tens of millions in crypto donated to Ukraine”. In addition, the firm claims cryptocurrencies are a transparent way to transfer funds.
Thus, donations made to these pro-Russia militias are easy to track by the international community removing the tactical advantage of similar donations made in fiat currency. Chainalysis said:
(…) public blockchains are transparent, we can follow each transfer in these accounts’ chains of payments, gleaning insights into pro-Russian activities that would be harder to extract from fiat money investigations.