Kyiv, October 9, 2014. There are almost one hundred volunteer organizations in Ukraine. They together with many new organizations that were founded recently directly support those on the front lines in the Donbas, stated the representatives of several volunteer organizations during their press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
Volunteer organizations are coordinating their efforts with international supporters and Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) in order to ensure that Ukrainians risking their lives are given the support that they need over the coming winter. “We will continue to help out until the current truce becomes real,” said Olha Bosak, the co-founder of the Ukrainian Freedom Fund. Bosak’s organization provides Ukrainian servicemen with equipment and clothes, including laptops, warm jackets, and body armor. Another organization, Wings of Phoenix, helps pay for the repair of aviation and other military equipment. “Eight of our APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) are already going to the front,” stated Oleksandra Tarasova, a coordinator for the organization. Other organizations present at the press conference have provided equipment for Ukrainian soldiers currently fighting at the Donetsk airport, or have assisted Ukrainian efforts since the beginning of the crisis.
The organizations’ representatives stressed that the role of civil society organizations are central to ensuring that Ukraine’s soldiers and volunteer battalions are sufficiently supported. “Mass movements in Ukraine have proved that they can work efficiently and urgently to solve problems,” stated Olha Kobylynska, representative of the organization “Come Back Alive.” Ukrainian civil society organizations became stronger since the start of the conflict, as their role on the front lines in providing for soldiers is very important and supported by the Ukrainian people, in general.
Ukraine’s volunteer organizations have increased their level of support with the Ministry of Defense. The ministry has often relied on these organizations to provide Ukrainian troops with the necessary equipment. “They have delegated a lot of authority to volunteer organizations, including what should be bought for the military,” Bosak stated. Despite increasing cooperation between the MoD and volunteer organizations, Kobylynska remained skeptical of the ministry’s abilities. She expressed that the Ministry of Defense would need to move past its corrupt practices and cumbersome structure. Promises that Ukrainian servicemen on the front will be provided for over the winter shouldn’t necessarily be believed.