After raising almost $47 million through donations in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Ukraine announced Wednesday it would reward those who have helped fund the country’s war against Russian invasion through a promotional “airdrop,” distributing crypto tokens directly into user wallets.
Usually, a company conducts an airdrop as a promotional tool to increase the number of users for a new token or blockchain project. To unlock the free tokens, recipients are asked to complete a certain task—sometimes as simple as following a social media account—before the tokens are transferred.
In its tweet announcing the airdrop, Ukraine did not provide details on who would receive the airdrop gifts or what they would get. Reportedly, that hasn’t stopped people from making small donations to Ukraine’s official crypto wallet—sometimes as tiny as $0.30 in Ether—in the hopes of getting a free gift from the Ukrainian government.
Ukraine’s proposed airdrop is not the first by a government. El Salvador—which accepts Bitcoin as legal tender—airdropped each of its citizens $30 worth of Bitcoin last year in an effort to promote uptake of the new currency.
Although cryptocurrency is legal in Ukraine, the government hasn’t recognized cryptocurrency as legal tender. Yet Ukraine is expanding the number of cryptocurrencies it is willing to accept as donations, after Bitcoin, Ether, and other tokens proved a popular channel for funding the country’s military and relief organizations.
On Wednesday, Ukraine Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted that the government is now accepting donations in Dogecoin, referring to the popular meme coin supported by Elon Musk and Mark Cuban, as well as accepting donations in Solana.
“Now even meme[s] can support our army and save lives from Russian invaders,” Fedorov said.
Previously, Ukraine accepted donations in Bitcoin, Ether, USDT, and Polkadot—the token used in the Polkadot blockchain network, founded by Ethereum cofounder Gavin Wood. On Tuesday, to thank Ukraine for accepting Polkadot, Wood donated $5.8 million in Polkadot tokens, marking one of the largest single crypto donations made to Ukraine.
The government’s acceptance of Dogecoin has tapped another tight-knit crypto community. So-called meme coins like Dogecoin and Shiba Inu have strong social media followings, which help spread the word about new blockchain projects and encourage others to keep holding the token and support the price.
Dogecoin founder Billy Markus, replying to Fedorov’s tweet, noted that while “dogecoin folks aren’t usually rich and dogecoin itself is generally used for small transactions…we are a caring and passionate bunch.”
According to data in Ukraine’s Dogecoin wallet, Ukraine has received over $62,000 worth of Dogecoin.
Update, Mar. 3: Less than 12 hours after first announcing the move, Fedorov said Ukraine had cancelled its airdrop plans and said the country will instead ‘announce NFTs’ to raise support for its military.