Vitalik Buterin Makes Surprise Appearance at Kyiv Tech Summit in Show of Support for Ukraine

The Ethereum co-founder, who was born in Russia, made time for the visit as his Ethereum blockchain is days away from the major overhaul known as the Merge.

AccessTimeIconSep 10, 2022 at 2:36 p.m. UTC
Updated May 11, 2023 at 4:22 p.m. UTC
10 Years of Decentralizing the Future
May 29-31, 2024 - Austin, TexasThe biggest and most established global event for everything crypto, blockchain and Web3.Register Now

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin surprised attendees at the Kyiv Tech Summit to show support for war-torn Ukraine, an appearance that was a closely guarded secret for security reasons, organizers told CoinDesk.

Buterin's support of Ukraine is far from surprising. While the Ethereum co-founder was born in Russia and met Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 to discuss Ethereum opportunities, he's been critical of his homeland's government for years as well as its war with Ukraine. Still, his visit is notable due to timing: Ethereum’s much-anticipated overhaul known as the Merge is just days away.

  • What Does State Inquiry Mean for Ethereum?
    What Does State Inquiry Mean for Ethereum?
  • Solana Passes Ethereum on DEX Volume
    Solana Passes Ethereum on DEX Volume
  • Bee Movie Script Buzzing on Ethereum; Robinhood Benefits From ‘Monster’ Crypto Cycle
    Bee Movie Script Buzzing on Ethereum; Robinhood Benefits From ‘Monster’ Crypto Cycle
  • Spot Bitcoin ETFs See Record $1B in Net Inflows; Ethereum's 'Dencun' Upgrade Goes Live
    Spot Bitcoin ETFs See Record $1B in Net Inflows; Ethereum's 'Dencun' Upgrade Goes Live
  • "I have been following Ukraine closely since the war started," Buterin said as the marquee speaker on the closing panel of the summit. "I wanted to come and see for myself" and "also let Ukraine know that lots of people in the blockchain, Ethereum, crypto world really care about you guys and lots of people support you."

    Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin (center) at the Kyiv Tech Summit. (Alexey.Karpovich/Kyiv Tech Summit)
    Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin (center) at the Kyiv Tech Summit. (Alexey.Karpovich/Kyiv Tech Summit)

    Buterin was in Kyiv at a time when U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also made a surprise unannounced trip there. Blinken did not attend the Kyiv Tech Summit.

    The war-time conference brought together 30 tech experts, the most high profile of them being Buterin and two government officials – Mykhailo Fedorov, the country's vice prime minister and Digital Transformation minister for IT development, and Alex Bornyakov, Fedorov's deputy and the face of Ukraine's use of crypto.

    The three-day event was focused on 500 hackers who submitted almost 50 projects as part of a crypto-related hackathon to support Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. What stood out among the themes discussed were decentralized electoral voting, central banks issuing digital currencies, and the role of Web3 and blockchain in fighting disinformation.

    Buterin who has made large monetary contributions to Ukraine's war-time effort also said he came to see what kind of projects people in Ukraine were up to, what they cared about, what they were building and what kind of implications one would find in Ukraine for blockchain, Web3 and Ethereum.

    "It was incredible to have Vitalik join us on the ground as well as important figures from the Ministry of Digital Transformation," said CJ Hetherington, co-founder of the summit. "Kyiv Tech Summit is not just an ordinary tech event. It’s a protest, a movement and an embodiment of the unbreakable spirit of Ukraine."

    Other speakers at the summit included Kiril Khomiakov, general manager of Binance Ukraine; Illia Polosukhin, co-founder of Near Protocol; and Pavlo Kartashov, director of the Ukrainian Startup Fund.

    UPDATED (Sept. 10, 19:15 UTC): Adds context to second paragraph.


    Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

    CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

    Amitoj Singh

    Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.

    Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk's longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.