Illegal Ukrainian crypto mine could have dented country’s war effort

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An illegal crypto mining operation that stole thousands of euros worth of electricity in war-torn eastern Ukraine has been seized by authorities.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), working with the National Police and the Holosiiv District Prosecutor’s Office of Kyiv, found rows of crypto mining hardware that, had it overloaded the power grid, could have caused major disruptions to homes, hospitals, and other infrastructure vital on the frontlines.

Authorities say evidence of illegal activity, including computers and other specialized equipment, was found in a rented warehouse outside Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city.

According to an official press release, the suspected crypto miners will be contacted amid a pre-trial investigation before the case is presented in court.

Last year, SBU carried out a similar raid on a warehouse in Vinnytsia, a city almost 300 kilometers southwest of Kyiv.

Authorities initially claimed the operation had uncovered one of the largest crypto mining facilities ever found in Ukraine, listing among the seized equipment more than 5,000 Playstation consoles and graphics cards.

However, just days after the raid, it was revealed that the machines were nothing to do with an illegal crypto mining operation. It turns out they were owned by UAE-based tech firm ММІ Engineering, which was using the rigs to train artificial intelligence for video games.

Read more: Weaponry and cyberwar: How Bitcoin funds anti-Russia efforts in Ukraine

Crypto mining in Ukraine may not help but donations are on the rise

While illegal crypto mining on Ukraine’s frontlines could have had disastrous effects, some charities report that crypto is playing a growing role in providing aid to the embattled region.

The Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, which raises money to purchase and donate materiel to Ukraine’s army, reports that donations are rising despite a severe bear market.

The charity’s military coordinator Roman Sinicyn told “In general, crypto is still rarely used for purchases, most [military] suppliers want cash. But crypto is becoming more popular; we have our suppliers who specifically ask for crypto.”

Sinicyn added it had received “a flow of donations in cryptocurrency” in the form of bitcoin, ether, tether, and other Ethereum-based ERC-20 tokens, adding up to “a couple of hundred thousand dollars.”

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