The world is watching in horror as Russia invades neighboring Ukraine, with widespread destruction, casualties, and dislocation already unfolding. But what can anyone really do to help? The official Twitter account for the nation of Ukraine has a suggestion: send us some Bitcoin.
“Stand with the people of Ukraine,” it tweeted. “Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.”
As economist Josh Hendrickson noted on Twitter, Ukraine had already received millions in donations just within the first few hours of the tweet’s release.
Already $400,000+ in bitcoin, $3 million + in ether in these wallets. https://t.co/F0aMPDhldb
— Josh Hendrickson (@RebelEconProf) February 26, 2022
This is more than just an odd bit of eccentric news. It shows how Bitcoin and other forms of decentralized cryptocurrency help promote freedom and combat authoritarianism.
In Undressing Bitcoin, author and cryptocurrency influencer Layah Heilpern describes Bitcoin as “humanitarian money.”
“When people flee tyrannical regimes, they have to leave their country with the clothes on their backs,” she writes. “The ultimate choice for these people and their families is to remain living under persecution or migrate into poverty. Bitcoin’s unique technology solves this exact problem as it empowers you to carry your wealth around the world with you and become truly sovereign.”
“Remember, Bitcoin is cryptographically locked away and is therefore non-confiscatable,” Heilpern continues. “You can flee tyranny and genocide with the keys in your head. Bitcoin really is humanitarian money.”
The same phenomenon surely applies in reverse. If sympathizers worldwide were to send the Ukrainian people cash, food, supplies, or other forms of traditional wealth, that could all be confiscated by Russian invaders and end up ultimately in their hands. Suffice it to say that’s not what anyone donating wants.
Yet Bitcoin, if stored properly and securely, is almost impossible for any government to confiscate.
It offers a way for us to send money to Ukrainians in need—or people anywhere in the globe in need of charity—without having to worry about our money ultimately ending up in the hands of corrupt government officials or oppressive regimes, as is so often the case with traditional government foreign aid or even sometimes private charitable efforts.
As Senator Ted Cruz has noted, “Authoritarians hate Bitcoin and hate crypto… [because] they can’t control [it and it’s] not subject to their authoritarian power.” The novel use of Bitcoin to send support to the people of Ukraine in their time of crisis reminds us why it’s such an innovative, pro-freedom technology.