Bitcoin Core Dev provides help in Ukraine

Demonstrating its unique utility on the biggest global stage at the moment, Bitcoin has helped Ukraine’s armed forces and non-governmental organizations raise funds from foreign supporters to fight the Russian invasion that began in late February amid rising tensions. between the two countries as Ukraine sought to forge closer ties with the European Union and NATO.

But military aid isn’t all Bitcoin has made easier for the people of Ukraine. The peer-to-peer (P2P) currency also allows a prolific Bitcoin developer to receive international pseudonymous donations for respond to local demand for funding and humanitarian aid as Russian troops advance to attack new towns.

“I try to focus on fulfilling small funding requests from a small network of on-site volunteers in Kyiv and other cities,” said Gleb, a bitcoin developer from Kharkiv, Ukraine. Bitcoin Magazine. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for Kharkiv because the logistics are messed up and the money is almost useless there. So we have to load our trucks or train cabins by ourselves here, and send them that way manually . »

Gleb and his team loaded a van with food, clothing and medical supplies to help children in Kharkiv. The supplies reached their destination within a day, Gleb said, after their driver loaded a train cabin heading for the city. Image courtesy of Gleb.

A sovereign battle

As Russian President Vladimir Putin attempts to suggest that Russians and Ukrainians are one people, rather than two separate nations, in an effort to legitimize his invasion, the Ukrainians are standing their ground and asserting their sovereignty.

“The Soviet Union tried hard to promote this narrative, for example by banning the Ukrainian language and forcing deportations of entire Ukrainian villages and replacing them with Russians,” Gleb said of the conflict as a whole. “Pointing [to] our similarities only bring negative emotions to Ukrainians, because they often forced us to replace unique things, and currently Putin is adopting the same strategy.

Gleb has been a Bitcoin Core contributor since 2018, having given several talks on Bitcoin and Bitcoin development over the years. More recently, he co-authored the CoinPool white paper, outlining a Bitcoin scaling proposal that allows users to make permissionless off-chain payments while sharing the same UTXO. The newspaper was published a few days before the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

Gleb began his Bitcoin journey years ago while working on building Ukraine’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Kuna. The developer seized the opportunity to dive into Bitcoin development at the protocol level later, during a master’s program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. Gleb’s foray into the west saw him work with bitcoin companies Blockstream and Chaincode and move to New York.

“When COVID started I had to go back to Ukraine because of the paperwork, but I always thought it was temporary,” Gleb said. “When the paperwork problems were solved, I realized that I wanted to stay in Ukraine because it’s my home and I like it here: the people, the freedom, the rapid development of everything.”

However, Ukraine’s growth came to a halt when the country was invaded, leading many people to focus on helping their neighbors in any way they could. For Gleb, that meant leveraging its Bitcoin expertise to facilitate receiving donations internationally and driving local exchanges.

“Bitcoin was a great tool for raising money, first of all. I just can’t imagine doing that through fiat,” Gleb said. USD or EUR or UAH [Ukrainian hryvnia] also for local missions. For some missions, I pay directly in bitcoin. For example, we bought two used vans in Poland with bitcoins. The cars are then used by my trusted drivers to deliver things to the war zone and evacuate people.

The developer is responsible for doing a bit of everything, including managing the funding received, coordinating internal and external volunteers, and working closely with their team members to provide the necessary support where it’s needed most. But Gleb does not work alone; Its team consists of a person receiving incoming requests and managing logistics, two drivers and four on-site volunteers located in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Gleb, a Ukrainian developer and Bitcoin Core since 2018, uses BTC to deliver humanitarian supplies to war-torn areas of his native country.

Gleb (left, standing) and part of his team find refuge in an underground air-raid shelter after Ukrainian forces detect a hostile rocket or aircraft flying in their direction. Image courtesy of Gleb.

Using Bitcoin in the field in Ukraine

“We are cooperating closely with two other groups: a group of highly creative startups streamlining logistics across the border, and a group of Bitcoin-minded close friends who are focused on sourcing products overseas,” he said. Gleb said.

The bitcoin developer explained that while some providers accept bitcoin, others prefer fiat. To fill the void, the group relied on a Telegram bot previously used in peacetime to sell bitcoin for a fiat debit card once a month.

“Now their team provides me with their on-site agent. It handles all transactions in a P2P manner,” Gleb said. “I needed $2,000 in cash to buy a car. I went to the agent and another guy came with some dollar money. The deal happened right there.

The car was purchased to send $20,000 in medical supplies and $10,000 in food and children’s supplies to Kyiv, Gleb said.

The setup is more reliable and efficient than banks, he added, as the traditional system can sometimes take a few hours due to problems on its agent’s side. Additionally, while his agent charges a 1% fee to convert hryvnia to US dollars as needed, a similar alternative at a traditional money changer would charge almost 25%, he said.

Gleb, a Ukrainian developer and Bitcoin Core since 2018, uses BTC to deliver humanitarian supplies to war-torn areas of his native country.

Most of the work done by Gleb and his team involves directing incoming bitcoin donations to areas that need the most support. Sometimes they will take care of the packing and shipping themselves, other times they will send money directly to other volunteers in different locations who can organize the necessary supplies in the cities under attack. Image courtesy of Gleb.

“It’s car-funded cargo,” Gleb said. “For a trip from western Ukraine to Kiev, we bought a car, packed it with humanitarian cargo and sent our driver there. The car will remain in Kyiv for local volunteering needs.

In another case, the promoter funded local efforts in Kyiv and Chernihiv by sending money to its trusted field volunteers, who bought and transported food to shelters where orphans were hiding.

As hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians attempted to flee the country to escape war, Gleb chose to stay and help bolster efforts on the ground to provide medical and food aid to victims of the invasion. Russian. He was in Kiev when the first bombings began and traveled to western Ukraine as he believed Russia would advance with rapid steps and eventually take the capital.

“My friends then went to the border to leave the country, but I decided to stay,” he said. “I felt I could be useful here, somehow. So I just moved to a place where I can be more useful, where I don’t have to spend hours in shelters: a small town in western Ukraine.

As for next steps, Gleb said it’s hard to plan at the moment as he struggles to overcome the “denial phase” – as he put it – in which he wants things to be. resolved within a week. However, the team has agreed on a “back-up plan” to relocate to the countryside, in a safer part of Ukraine, if the war does not start to die down soon. Gleb explained that their plan B is to buy a house with personal funds “and learn to live in it”.

Amid the mounting conflict and daily humanitarian efforts on the ground, Gleb found time to develop a step-by-step guide for Russians interested in anonymously donating bitcoin to Ukrainian efforts. The group’s main donation page is also live, running on a BTCPay server instance that automatically generates a new address for each donation. As of March 9, the group has raised 3.1 BTC, all of which has been spent on its humanitarian aid efforts.

“While hoping this will end on a rather positive note soon, we are ready to continue our mission if we manage to collect more bitcoins,” Gleb said.