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Ukraine mobilizes volunteer ‘IT Army,’ crypto community in war with Russia

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Ukraine mobilizes volunteer 'IT Army,' crypto community in war with Russia

Ukrainian leaders are drawing strength from a volunteer “IT army,” raising money through cryptocurrency donations and using public appeal on social media to gain global attention as they battle an adversary adept at online attacks.

The country’s novel digital strategy is “in [the] It was in response to the Russian invasion that changed lives in Ukraine overnight, Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation, told The Hill.

“Until the last minute, we didn’t believe it was going to be a full-scale war,” he said.

“Even the day before the war, we were just living our normal lives, planning our meetings, planning our actions – everything was like normal life. Once we started, we realised that we had to act very differently than before. ,” he added.

Like many others, Bornyakov said he was woken up three weeks ago by explosions early in the morning. Two days after the first attack, he was evacuated from Kyiv to a safer place in Ukraine.

From day one, he said, a large number of Ukrainians reached out, asking how they could help the work of the digital sector.

“This is the country they want to help. They want to defend their homeland,” he said.

The ministry inspired volunteers to create the IT Army, which now consists of more than 300,000 people.

Volunteers take on different tasks and communicate via Telegram, a platform that provides end-to-end encrypted messaging.

“It’s a perfect example of why encryption really matters,” said Alexandra Givens, president and CEO of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

“Encryption has been under attack in the U.S. and around the world for some time now. It’s the target of the public policy debate. I think this moment will really help illustrate how secure communications really, really, really matter, and Hopefully education policy makers are more aware of this fact,” she added.

As the Kremlin cracks down on news media sites and social media platforms, it helps provide a way to bring outside information into Russia.

The New York Times, for example, launched a dedicated channel on Telegram this week, providing coverage of the war through its ongoing live blog.

Reaching Russian civilians to news media outside Russia’s state-controlled media is also part of the goal of the IT army, Bornyakov said.

“We put a lot of effort into spreading the truth to the Russian people in every possible way through the internet so that they don’t live in this bubble, so they understand what’s really going on. Because they’re really in this bubble and are being This propaganda instills that we are fascists or some very bad people who deserve to die, but that’s not true,” he said.

Ukraine has also used its position in the global cryptocurrency community to raise funds for humanitarian aid programs and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

According to the official fundraising website, the Ministry of Digital Transformation has raised over $54 million through cryptocurrencies.

“There are a lot of people who want to help with crypto because there is a strong blockchain community in Ukraine,” Bornyakov said.

“Today, cryptocurrencies play a vital role in Ukraine’s defense,” he added.

In a further effort to raise funds through blockchain technology, the Ukrainian government will launch non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, at war. Each NFT will include news and artwork from “trusted sources,” Bornyakov said.

Proceeds from the NFT will be used to support humanitarian and military efforts.

The ministry and Ukrainian leaders also made extensive use of more mainstream social media platforms to raise awareness and urge support.

Social media has been used for about a decade to show devastation in war-torn regions, but the way leaders directly “use social media as a tool” marks a departure from the way they have used the power of platforms in the past, Givens said.

“the fact is [President Volodymyr] Zelensky broadcasts every day, uses his mobile phone to film himself out and about, and assembles troops in this way — for a global audience, not just his domestic… [feels] than just catching the destruction update,” she said.

Ukrainian leaders are using Twitter to reach tech companies directly.Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mikhailo Fedorov tweets SpaceX CEO Elon MuskElon Reeve Musk Hillicon Valley — Meta faces privacy violation fines in Ireland, Tesla raises prices twice a week due to rising costs Ask him to provide Ukraine with the Starlink satellite internet station to “get sane Russians on their feet.”

Musk then dispatched the station, and Federoff tweeted that they had arrived.

“At this point in the conflict, they’re using every possible strategy to try and get attention and mobilize support, and doing so in a way that’s relatively transparent, relevant and accessible, I think really increases the world’s interest in these efforts. Pay attention,” Givens said.

Bornyakov said work carried out on the digital front cannot be compared to fighting on the battlefield, but it has become more important as a tool against Russian disinformation and cyberattacks.

“If we lose the support of the media, we will lose the support of the people,” he said.

“They tried to convince our government that we were incompetent and we didn’t have to believe it. They failed,” he added.

“It’s due to the media efforts and showing what’s really happening. Without that, there would be no support for ordinary Ukrainian citizens. Then they can go into any city and occupy them without any struggle. So let people know what’s really going on. What happened is very important.”

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