UkraineDAO's NFT Is the Ukraine War Ally Zelensky Didn't Expect

In November 2021, ConstitutionDAO was at the top of the technological news. It was about a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) that wanted to raise millions of dollars in crypto to buy the last original copy of the United States Constitution. The group failed in its objective, but the thousands of people who participated and the millions raised gave visibility to the impact that DAOs can have. Now, the blockchain has reached the Ukraine war, already defined as the “first crypto war” in the world, with the project UkraineDAO and its NFT of the Ukrainian flag.

The initiative gave a lot to talk about after it raised 2,100 ethereums, equivalent to about 5.5 million euros, in a yellow and blue flag NFT. The amount went to Come Back Alive, an organization that supports civilians and military in Ukraine. Behind the initiative is Pussy Riot, the digital art studio Trippy Labs and the collective PleasrDAO.

The crowdfunding campaign put DAOs and NFTs in the spotlight of the Ukraine war. More importantly, it is the first time that a collection of such magnitude has been achieved to support an armed conflict.

The Ukrainian Alona Shevchenko, one of the founders of UkraineDAO who currently lives in London, witnessed how the tension rose in her country and how the war that is about to turn 14 days broke out. She explains to Hipertextual how she started the project: before the start of the conflict, she was already in contact with a member of the Ukrainian intelligence service, and was aware of the imminent invasion of Russia.

In fact, in an open letter written on February 21, 2022, three days before the beginning of the Russian actions on Ukrainian territory, Alona stated that silence was a crime at a time of escalation and that it was important to talk and find out about the topic.

Shortly after, he would meet with the other members of the initiative, including Pussy Riot, and that is how the now well-known Ukrainian flag NFT project was born.

UkraineDAO does not buy weapons

The organization Come Back Alive, recipient of the money raised through the NFT of the Ukrainian flag, is being one of the central axes of aid to the country in the midst of the Russian invasion. The donations go to civilians on the one hand but they are also a support for the Ukrainian military. It is precisely for this reason that the option to send money was blocked on crowdfunding platforms such as Patreon because the sale of weapons was involved.

In this regard, the organizers of UkraineDAO explain to this outlet that the money from the NFT is not used for the supply or purchase of weapons, “which is one of the the concerns of people who donate or who are interested in the organization.

UkraineDAO co-founder is working on a mental health support service for refugees

In addition, UkraineDAO maintains that it has opted for Come Back Alive for two key reasons: because it is one of the organizations that has donated the most in the midst of the war in Ukraine. And for its transparency, by providing a shared document in the cloud that is constantly updated in which donors can see, at any time, what the money that has reached the NGO was used for .

The money raised by UkraineDAO is the first step to see how a technology can be one more actor in a war. In this case, Alona underlines that the project has been focused on an urgent situation in which action was necessary, but that they are thinking about the next steps.

In the framework of the war in Ukraine, Alona Shevchenko is working in a mental health support service for refugees from the Ukrainian war. “People need that help, especially people who are going through traumatic situations on the ground,” she explains.

The Ukrainian war NFT does not want to punish Putin

UkraineDAO has achieved an important collection with its NFT of the Ukrainian flag and for the moment it has been the only initiative by the organization. The next steps are yet to be defined, but Alona emphasizes that the objective is not, nor will it be, to punish anyone.

In reference to Russia, the Ukrainian activist explains to Hipertextual that this is not the mission of a DAO and that any punishment measure will be carried out as part of a process of international law. “We focus our efforts on helping Ukraine defend itself and helping people on the ground,” she concludes.

Nadya Tolokonnikova is one of the members of Pussy Riot and one of the most visible figures within UkraineDAO. In an interview with the New York Times on February 28, the activist acknowledged that blockchain allows efforts to be scaled in a way that was not possible before. “The old ways of raising money are sometimes really slow and clunky,” she said.

Trippy Labs took a similar position, arguing that there are many ways in which traditional funds can be intercepted and detained by traditional institutions or governments. .

“The Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are a model for the world to witness how people with a common purpose can come together and work together quickly; to distribute funds and advance humanitarian causes.”

Trippy Labs The DAO is, above all, a community The UkraineDAO NFT case is much more than a way to donate funds to an NGO. It is a way in which a community can organize and respond to emergency situations. Creating a conventional organization can take weeks or even months, in the case of a DAO, it is a matter of minutes.

Also, communications between community members are much faster. “Many people have helped rescue refugees trapped at the border,” Alona recalls in The Guardian, where she was also interviewed. In another case, a UkraineDAO member asked to contact a group of diabetics in Ukraine to help them get insulin.

“Any kind of help I need in Ukraine, I can find someone in the community who can help someone else,” says Alona.

In addition to contributing financially to the NFT bid, you can also collaborate symbolically

Not only can you help in the war in Ukraine by sending money with cryptocurrencies. UkraineDAO also gives the option to participate in the bidding from a social aspect and receive a token called LOVE.

It has no use or value but it is a reminder for having contributed against the Russian invasion. Nadya Tolokonnikova pointed out, in a talk after the NFT bidding began, that the goal is for no one to remain in be quiet.

The help with NFTs is symbolic, but no less important

Thanks to initiatives such as UkraineDAO's NFT in the Ukraine war and the fund managed by the Kuna, the Ukrainian government has obtained nearly 59 million dollars for medical equipment, and first aid. Also for food supplies, and military equipment such as bulletproof vests and helmets. Donors number in the hundreds of thousands and authorities highlighted large donations such as the creator of the Polkadot cryptocurrency, Gavin Wood, who sent 5 million dollars.

It is true that if we compare it with the nearly 2,000 million dollars that the United States will send to Ukraine for humanitarian aid, it cannot be compared with what the Government has raised thanks to cryptocurrencies.

However, the importance of these crypto donations is symbolic. They do not come from governments, but from individuals and individuals who condemn the invasion and want to do everything possible to help in the war in Ukraine. It is a way of actively involving the world's population who are witnesses of hell.

Photo: Max Kukurudziak

The dilemma of cryptocurrencies in the Ukraine war

It is not for nothing that this conflict is being called a cryptowar. From the very beginning, cryptocurrencies have become a key figure; not only to help the Ukrainian government, but also as a way for Russia to circumvent the sanctions and economic blockade. As in all technology, it is neither good nor bad, it all depends on how it is used. It is possible that some people “demonize” cryptocurrencies because it can become an economic ally for Vladimir Putin. But it is impossible to deny that it is also being Ukraine's lifeline in many ways.

DAOs may be at their best since they have become a way to help in war

The truth is that there were not many bets in favor of NFTs in this regard. Since they were launched, digital art has been the protagonist of some stories that start from a person who spends millions of dollars on something that not everyone understands its value.

Something similar was happening with the DAO. Ever since the issues the ConstitutionDAO community had, it was hard to see these decentralized organizations for what they are. A community that is capable of reaching where many other traditional ones have not achieved it in the same period of time. It is possible that there is still a lot to be defined regarding this type of organization, but now they could be at their best as a tool to help for the war in Ukraine.

This is the time to see cryptocurrencies as a vehicle for doing good. Of course, not everything is rosy, but that is not a reason to condemn all transactions and initiatives related to cryptocurrencies and the blockchain. What is happening in Ukraine and the impact that this technology is having should be a lesson for those actors who believe that cryptocurrencies are the devil of the financial sector.