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NFTs Become Modern-Day War Bonds as the Crypto Community Rallies Around Ukraine

Over $22 million has been raised in crypto to help Ukrainians purchase weapons and supplies, including more than $3 million in NFTs.

It was announced on February 26 that the Ukrainian government would begin accepting cryptocurrency donations. The public responded during the sixth day of the Russia-Ukraine war on Tuesday. Ukrainians were able to purchase everything from arms to medical supplies using more than $22 million raised in crypto, including more than $3 million raised through NFTs.

Due to their relative liquidity and transparency, NFTs have become an essential tool for art communities seeking to support Ukrainian defense and humanitarian efforts. Over the past week, several non-fungible token sales have taken place, with these tokens taking on the role of the war bond of the 21st century. "The Ukraine conflict has become the first crypto war in history," according to the Washington Post. Like the recent calls around the sale of NFTs, an appeal to moral conscience would inspire the exhortation to buy these. However, it is not free of pitfalls like other wartime measures. Revenues are donated to a charity for Ukrainian civilians.

In a video, crypto-art pioneer Olive Allen, of Russian descent, burns her passport outside the Russian consulate in New York. The artist is selling the single clip as an NFT in order to raise funds for the people of Ukraine. Allen believes his responses are responsible for capturing the essence of our times, pushing boundaries, and looking for deeper meaning. "Having lost my passport, I have now become a citizen of the metaverse."

Russia's UkraineDAO (an autonomous decentralized organization) was founded by the Russian artist and founder of Pussy Riot, Nadya Tolokonnikova. Come Back Alive, a crowdfunding organization that helps Ukrainian military members and their families, said it would distribute 100 percent of the funds it raised. Due to Patreon's rules, the group was removed several weeks ago.

UkrainianDAO's NFT was released with a PartyBid, a tool that lets people bid collectively and own fractional pieces of the artwork if they win.

"The organizers intended to avoid adding Pussy Riot's own work to this release," Tolokonnikova told Artnet News. "In a sense, it's like our solid conceptual statement. We all have different aesthetics, but what matters is what we unite to save lives, not what color we prefer. The Ukrainian flag unites us."

In addition to selling NFTs, RELI3F raised more than $1 million in ETH. 185 Ethereum (roughly $485,600) has been transferred to three wallets associated with Come Back Alive and local Ukrainian media vetted by Kyiv Independent and a group of frontline workers. According to the group, the remaining ETH will be saved to support humanitarian efforts in future destabilization.

Aleksandra Artamonovskaja, a RELI3F team member from Ukraine now living in London, says DAOs played an essential role in mobilizing relief efforts. She has said Web3 makes it possible to distribute money most effectively and as transparently as possible.

West-based artists have also joined forces with Ukrainians fighting off the invasion. With 100% of proceeds going to RELI3F and UkraineDAO, Shepard Fairey released one edition of his NFT-based work Diplomacy Over Violence. There is also a moral dilemma in play when many in the crypto community support Ukraine.

NFTs and cryptocurrency may be used to help Ukraine with digital war bonds and fast-tracked payments, but rogue states can also use them to circumvent sanctions. In 2014, for instance, the crypto research agency Elliptic discovered that pro-Russian separatists in Crimea used crypto to avoid sanctions. According to Jesse Powell, the head of research at Elliptic, it may not be possible to track, much less freeze, the accounts of Russian clients.