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In the war between Russia and Ukraine, both sides of the conflict are leveraging cryptocurrencies to gain the upper hand.
The pro-Ukrainian movement has raised nearly $200 million from crypto donations, showing how borderless and uncensorable money can help in times of emergency.
However, the Russian side also uses cryptocurrencies. A total of about $5 million was raised by pro-Kremlin groups and propaganda agencies in the course of the invasion, as recently revealed by Chainalysis. report. These entities are small grassroots organizations that have used cryptography to evade Western financial sanctions.
“We’re really looking at the individual actors: someone on the front lines, someone trying to help provide more military resources to the front lines. […] It’s like a bulletproof vest or a drone,” explains Andrew Fierman, head of sanctions strategy at Chainalysis and one of the authors of the report.
But these numbers don’t take ransomware attacks into account. Over the course of 2022, more than $450 million of him was paid to these entities, as shown by Chainalysis data. Most of them were thought to be based in Russia. Some, like the cybercriminal group Conti, openly support the Russian government’s war effort.
“When it comes to ransomware payments, bad actors often have some kind of political intent behind their actions,” Fierman points out.
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