Pro-Russian groups are raising funds through crowdfunding campaigns, and have raised a significant amount in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
According to research by blockchain intelligence firm TRM Labs, this is likely in an attempt to evade U.S. sanctions and to support paramilitary operations in war-torn Ukraine.
“Last week, we noticed about $400,000 raised since the onset of the invasion far back in February,” Head of global investigations at TRM Labs, Chris Janczewski said.
The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the “Task Force Rusich” last month for allegedly committing horrible atrocities against Ukrainians, as well as two of its leaders and five crypto addresses linked to the group.
TRM labs discovered that this group was looking to raise money to buy thermal imaging devices and radios, which would help them communicate better and see in the dark.
A Telegram channel highlights Romanov Light has raised over $174,000 in cryptocurrencies for Special Rapid Response Unit (“SOBR”), an elite Special Forces unit in the Russian military. The Items purchased by this group included general combat and survival equipment.
The Novorossia Aid Coordinating Centre is another pro-Russian group that turned to cryptocurrencies to raise funds. It is reported that they raised $21,000 in Bitcoin to purchase drones.
According to TRM Labs, the likelihood of further adoption of cryptocurrencies is high amongst Telegram channels that raise funds in support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
This is due to the sanctions and observed service disruptions to the Russian electronic banking infrastructure. Of note, read about the Bank of Russia moves on legalizing cryptocurrency.
This new development and adoption might raise eyebrows to ask; is the war at its brim and is Russia close to making bitcoin a legal tender?