The Ukrainian Military has raised $10.4 million (124.7 million hryvnia) through its fundraiser campaign, the Defense Ministry reports.
$9.8 million (117.5 million hryvnia) will be used towards medical support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Businesses and private individuals have donated to the “Support the Ukrainian army” campaign over the last month and a half.
People can call a “565” mobile number to donate 50 cents to the Ukraine military. Meanwhile, Children have held fairs and bake sales to help raise money, and adults have been bringing essentials, such as food, water, and clothing to soldiers at military bases.
The U.S. recently donated $42 thousand (557.1 thousand hryvnia) and 21.6 thousand euros (332,000 hryvnia) to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.
An under-financed military
When the new interim government took over on February 27, they were shocked to find that the treasury was empty.
An investigation found that the defense factory had been stealing $81 of every $100 order.
Ukraine’s military budget was $5.3 billion last year, the Sockholm International Peace Research Institute reported in March. That means about $4.293 billion had been stolen from Ukraine’s military funding.
“If the stolen money had been used for modernization of the Ukrainian army, there would not be a problem,” Deputy Prime Minister Vitaliy Yarema said last month.
Ukraine’s army has suffered heavily in the recent months because of its extreme lack of funding.
In an article by The Washington Post, 26-year-old Pavlo Podobied said: “The army became impoverished from the inside–money and materiel were stolen. They didn’t have equipment, and meals were cheap macaroni and a small piece of tough meat.”
During the invasion of Crimea by Russian soldiers in March, the Ukrainian military was too starved of essential equipment to put up much of a resistance to the foreign forces, and became dependent on the local residents to supply them.
“Local people started bringing them [the Ukrainian soldiers] food, water, SIM cards,” Podobied said. “The soldiers were depending on them.”
Heroika, an organization that Podobied helped found, had previously been tending to the graves of Ukrainians who fought for independence in the 1917 Russian Revolution, but has now turned its attention towards helping the country’s present-day army.
“We began collecting money to buy uniforms and ammunition,” Podobied said. “Soldiers at one checkpoint had only one radio, and it broke after the second day.”
He described the reaction of some Ukrainian soldiers who received 30 pairs of safety glasses from Heroika: “When we brought them [the glasses] to the base, it was like Christmas. They had only seen them in ads.”
Those in charge of Ukraine’s military not only stole, but young men routinely paid bribes to avoid service, which left the ranks under-filled and consisting mostly of the poor, Podobied told The Washing Post.
Western countries have sent supplies to the impoverished military in the recent months. In March, France donate body armor to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, something which it lacks. The U.S. then donated $3.5 million worth of equipment–consisting of helmets, sleeping mats, water purification kits, generators, medical supplies, and 300,000 MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
Last month, the Ukraine’s Defense Ministry deputy supply chief said that the army had only about 30 to 40% of what it needed. But in light of the recent, selfless donations by individuals, businesses, and countries, the Ukrainian military seems to be heading along the right path towards a long and difficult journey to recovery.