Ukraine is selling NFTs like war bonds

The Ukrainian government has a new way to finance its war with Russia: NFTs. The country’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, which has embraced crypto in recent weeks as a means of soliciting donations from sympathetic foreigners, is releasing 54 nonfungible tokens (NFTs), a series of digital blockchain-based images. The hope is that Ukraine can raise awareness and money for its cause as it continues to stave off Russia’s military.

It’s a contemporary spin on the war bond, a debt security sold to finance a war and stave off inflation. But the NFT project is also a commitment to documenting Russia’s invasion and raising international attention, in stark contrast to the Russian government’s efforts to limit the internet, threaten journalists, and censure any reference to “war” with Ukraine.

A timeline of the Russia-Ukraine war

Ukraine’s NFT project is styled as a timeline of the war, documenting the first three days of the invasion in late February. The NFTs show tweets overlayed onto original drawings or digital designs. One NFT features a tweet from NATO, “We call on Russia to stop this senseless war,” along with a drawing by artist Alina Kropachova of NATO’s compass logo speaking through a megaphone.

“While Russia uses tanks to destroy Ukraine, we rely on revolutionary blockchain tech,” tweeted Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister and minister of digital transformation, on March 25.

The project, called META HISTORY: Museum of War, was initially hinted at by Fedorov’s deputy, Alex Bornyakov, earlier in the month. Fedorov said that the collection is meant to “keep the memory of war” and “celebrate the Ukrainian identity and freedom.” The sale begins on March 29. The NFTs will be sold for 0.15 ETH, or about $500, and the Ukrainian government will cut a cut from secondary sales.

NFTs as a way to record history

Blockchain technology isn’t good for everything, but making an immutable record of an event might be the ideal application. Since blockchains are add-only databases, even if two parties want to reverse a transaction, there will always be the initial record. The Ukrainian government will mint the NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain, using a platform built by the company, and will sell each NFT for .15 ETH. Buyers can then sell or auction the NFTs on secondary markets, and Ukraine will receive a cut of all future sales.

By chronicling the first days of the war on the blockchain, the website for the Meta History project attempts to deliver on its promise to “never let any single day of this period disappear from the ledger of world history.” Already, the ongoing war has killed 1,100 civilians, according to the UN, and devastated many Ukrainian cities.

But Ukraine is also tapping into a symbolic contrast with its adversary in an attempt to win over the world’s sympathies in its struggle against Russia. That recalls the electrifying effect that the oil painting Guernica had when surrealist painter Pablo Picasso released it in 1937. Guernica, now hanging in Spain’s Museo Reina Sofía, depicts the devastation of war — a dead woman and child, a fallen solider, and slain animals. It stirred the world’s consciousness during the Spanish Civil War, and raised funds for the war relief effort.

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