$4M in Crypto Sent to Pro-Russia Militias in Ukraine: Report

Millions of dollars continue to be sent to paramilitary groups that are often officially sanctioned, the report said.

AccessTimeIconOct 7, 2022 at 4:48 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 7, 2022 at 7:12 p.m. UTC

Cryptocurrency worth at least $4 million has so far been sent to groups supporting Russia's military in Ukraine, according to a Wired report that cites researchers and blockchain investigators.

The report also said the millions of dollars continue to be sent to paramilitary groups that are often officially sanctioned.

The analyses involved separate findings from cryptocurrency-tracing firms Chainalysis, Elliptic and TRM Labs, along with investigators at Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume.

Chainalysis traced roughly $1.8 million in funding to the militias in just the past two months, the report said. In the five months prior, the groups received $2.2 million. Binance found that $4.2 million in crypto have been funneled to Russian military groups since February. The findings between Chainalysis and Binance didn't entirely overlap.

Despite tracing the funds, stopping their flow has proven difficult due to unregulated or sanctioned cryptocurrency exchanges, most of them in Russia.

“With the close cooperation of companies like Chainalysis and Binance, we can see all the wallets involved in this criminal activity," said Serhii Kropyva, former deputy of Ukraine’s Cyber Police and adviser to the country’s prosecutor general. "But we can, unfortunately, see that the transfer is continuing all the time.”

A common modus operandi was public posts on the messaging app Telegram soliciting crowdfunded donations, the report said. The posts declared that the funds will be used for everything from "weaponized drones to radios, rifle accessories, and body armor."


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.