“There is a problem with the bank accounts, something happened… transactions are stopped, for some reason.”
– Ukrainian activist Walter Lekhin a Twitter Spaces chat discussing donation opportunities for Ukraine.
Developments in Eastern Europe have taken center stage for much of the world in recent days. Aggressive and consistent streams of reporting from the ground in Ukraine as the country watches Russian troops invade dominate social feeds and headlines.
Following these updates on the conflict and bloodshed, reports from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that have worked directly with the Ukrainian government since 2015 are now accepting bitcoin donations.
Before this article goes any further, I would like to expressly advise that no one donate any bitcoin funds until significant effort has been put into verifying addresses as best as possible. This article is not intended as a political confession of support, nor a call to action. Significant efforts are being made by several parties who are currently engaging in deception and confusion of information and traffic. Additionally, for those participating in live streams of footage and/or social media posts of this conflict: Do not click on links provided by parties you do not know or trust.
This is an extremely volatile situation, and these areas have become a battleground for intelligence organizations, with hacker groups such as Anonymous joining the effort. Participating in these areas online can actively insert you into the digital crossfire.
One such NGO is “SaveLife”, an organization which claims to split funds on a 50/50 basis between supporting veterans and war wounded and equipping Ukrainian elements with necessary equipment such as bulletproof vests. SaveLife recently had its Patreon account frozen – echoing similar events around the Canadian Freedom Convoy, as well as many other tangentially related scenarios that have occurred over the past two years when it comes to centralized organizations. actively working to limit freedom of information as well as money transmission.
This NGO, also known as Come Back Alive, was receiving BTC donations before the launch of this latest escalation of aggression in Eastern Europe. At the time of writing, the SaveLife address received a total of 152 BTC (worth around $6 million), up almost 30% over a 48-hour period, the address donation from the Ukrainian government totaling 15 BTC at the time of writing.
What the Ukraine-Russia conflict says about money and the state
This unstable and persistent situation highlights a multitude of concerns in the modern era.
First, the obvious: money all over the world must be separated from the state, if not entirely, at least partially/parallel to current systems.
Ukrainians (especially noteworthy Walter Lekha Ukrainian man who is currently in the United States but has been publicizing the developments online for weeks as his family stay in Ukraine as events continue to escalate) shared frustration with attempts to conventionally transfer funds internationally to support their families, as well as their compatriots. As these fiat rails provide too many friction points to get funds where they are needed most and in a timely manner.
Second, the radically outdated bureaucracies and systems of financial organizations continue to prove impotent in the face of real-world developments as they include the rapid transmission of information in the modern era.
Rapid advances in technology continue to create significant bottlenecks for the effective distribution and dissemination of information. While the mainstream media has proven to be a general joke about developments over the past two years in particular, these centralized entities continue to lack legitimate, high-quality information as it happens. Decentralized groups, affectionately referred to as open source intelligence (OSINT), are actively sought out as reliable sources by trusted journalists such as Mark Goldbergas well as politicians, ambassadors and active duty S2s – proving the effectiveness, reach and efficiency of decentralized operations beyond those of the Bitcoin network.
Third, these events also reveal how much online activity is becoming increasingly dangerous. This dynamic also means that vulnerabilities in centralized financial systems (on which most developed countries depend) are becoming increasingly severe. This is because a centralized entity, while acting as a digital fortress, also provides a single point of attack, allowing attackers and bad actors to focus their efforts on breaching their defenses. It is very important to recognize that while some systems benefit from a blockchain, not all systems and mechanisms benefit from, let alone require, a blockchain mechanism.
I have already written for Bitcoin Magazine on the interest of separating the money from the State, which you can find here. Part of the reasoning for this article was to announce the launch of a Declaration of Monetary Independence, which is a digital sign-on product, functioning similarly to a petition, which will sport a physical display when Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami this April.
This is a guest post by Mike Hobart. The opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.