Ethereum's Russian-born co-founder Vitalik Buterin slams Kremlin calling Ukraine invasion 'a crime'

Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, participates in an event in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2017.
Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, participates in an event in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2017.   -   Copyright  Kris Tripplaar/Reuters Connect
By David Walsh

Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-Canadian co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain, railed against Russian president Vladimir Putin and the invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, condemning it as a "crime against the Ukrainian and Russian people".

Taking to Twitter minutes after Putin announced he had ordered a "special military operation" in eastern Ukraine and various media reports of explosions in cities across the former Soviet republic, Buterin posted that he was "very upset" about the Kremlin's decision.

There have been reports of up to 40 fatalities so far, according to an advisor of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, following early morning attacks by Russian armed and naval forces, with cities including the capital Kyiv being targeted.

"Very upset by Putin's decision to abandon the possibility of a peaceful solution to the dispute with Ukraine and go to war instead. This is a crime against the Ukrainian and Russian people," he tweeted.

"I want to wish everyone security, although I know that there will be no security. Glory to Ukraine".

He subsequently tweeted that while Ethereum was unbiased, he was not.

Buterin has been vocal in his opposition to escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine, tweeting earlier this month that he hoped the Kremlin would "chose wisely" in its course of action over Ukraine.

"An attack on Ukraine can only harm Russia, Ukraine and humanity," he posted.

"Whether the situation will return to a peaceful path or there will be a war can now be decided not by Zelensky, not by NATO, but by @KremlinRussia. I hope they choose wisely".

The 28-year-old, who co-founded Ethereum in 2014 after becoming interested in Bitcoin in his teens, is so far one of the only prominent business leaders to condemn a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In the hours following the beginning of Russia's invasion on Thursday, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies plunged to a one-month low.

Bitcoin fell by as much as 7.9 per cent to $34,324 (€30,570), its lowest since the end of January.

The all-out invasion of Ukraine - seen as the worst offensive in Europe since the end of the Second World War - also impacted other cryptos.

More than $150 billion (€133 billion) has been wiped off the entire cryptocurrency market in the last 24 hours, according to Coinmarketcap data.

Buterin is known for expressing his opinions publically. This week, he slammed the Canadian government for blocking crypto transfers and the bank accounts of truckers protesting in Ottawa.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau invoked emergency powers to deal with the ongoing protest over a government mandate that required cross-border hauliers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The emergency powers enabled the government to freeze the bank accounts and crypto funds of protesters, a move Buterin called "dangerous".

"If the truckers are blocking the roads and that's breaking the economy, fine, blocking the roads is illegal and there are laws against that," he told Coindesk in an interview at the weekend.