Here I’d like to express my appreciation to Ukrainian volunteers – men and women, young and old – who donate money, buy staff and bring it to the frontline to cover the most urgent needs of Ukrainian servicemen, especially in winter. Due to systematic downsizing, corruption and poor commanding the Ukrainian Armed Forces were in weak condition at the beginning of undeclared war by Russia in spring of 2014 – annexation of Crimea and invasion to eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, prompting local pro-Russian separatists.

I personally faced poor condition of the army and was kind of shocked, when I was drafted in 2014. On my mind, I saw the bottom of that poor condition, because I was sent not to Kyiv to an elite military detachment, but to brigade in the provincial industrial city. Then international volunteers started equipping me and my squad. My wife launched a Facebook page “Viktor’s Squad” to collect money from around the world, and with help of US Foundation & Ukraine Freedom Fund we could equip my 18 men squad with bullet-proof vests, kevlar helmets, tactical glasses, protection pads, etc.

Volunteers help
My unit received kevlar helmets. My photo.

After 3 months long training, my unit was disbanded. All soldiers and sergeants, who were trained under my command (and equipped by international volunteers), were sent to strengthen other battalions. They took all the equipment with them, and it secures their lives and helps in their further military service. And then I focused on serving as a communication officer.

Волонтери в АТО
Ukrainian volunteers use even small cars to deliver goods to servicemen in the ATO zone. My photo. Click to see more on Flickr.

In the anti-terrorist operation zone in eastern Ukraine I saw other volunteers – purely domestic, Ukrainian. They impressed me even more than those who helped me before! They come with cloth, food, cakes, beverages, optics, computers, communication equipment and other stuff to our battalion not only from the home city, but also from Kyiv and various regions. They ready and eager to buy all we need, and bring it to us.

Volunteers Kryvyj Rih Ukraine
Volunteers from Kryvyj Rih delivered food and kitchen stuff. My photo. Click to see more on Flickr.

At the moment, I counted at least 5 volunteer organizations which specifically help our detachment now in January. Two Kryvjy Rih Women’s Hundreds, HQ of Kryvyj Rih National Defense (NGO), International Alliance of Brother’s Help “Zakhyst” from Kyiv are among them.

Kyiv Ukraine volunteers
Volunteers from Kyiv delivered night vision optics. My photo. Click to see more on Flickr.

I know how hard is for Ukrainians to give and collect money in times of economic downfall due to ongoing war. That’s why I’m very grateful to our Ukrainian people! Our country will recover after military turmoil as a strong European nation, because volunteering experience will form the new type of citizens – responsible and conscious.

Mykolaiv Ukraine volunteers ATO
A volunteer from Mykovaiv city asks a Ukrainian soldier to write his wish on a Ukraine’s flag. My photo. Click to see more on Flickr.
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