Kyiv, August 1, 2014. Residents of Kyiv play a vital role in the Ukrainian forces’ operations in eastern Ukraine, both as soldiers and as volunteers in private initiatives which support the troops. Approximately 1600 residents of Kyiv are participating in Ukrainian military units in the east, with an additional 2400 residents fighting in National Guard units. These statements were made by Olexiy Reznikov, the Kyiv City Council Secretary, and Olexander Kharchenko, a Kyiv City Council deputy during their press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Despite the positive contributions of Kyiv residents in Ukraine’s efforts against Russia-supported militants in the eastern parts of the country, more still needs to be done in order to provide for Ukraine’s soldiers in a time of war, reflected the speakers.
The municipal government of Kyiv has created an ad hoc commission related to the issue of Kyiv residents participating in and supporting the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) against Russia-backed forces. The commission’s tasks include establishing lines of communication between private initiatives and soldiers fighting on the front lines, supporting the families of soldiers, and assisting the private initiatives that support Ukraine’s soldiers. “It’s not a secret that people from all of Ukraine are helping soldiers with equipment, medication, and so forth,” said Olexiy Reznikov. Kyiv residents play an important and active role in this endeavor. Kyiv city councilors, for example, have helped the Ukrainian military purchase cross-country military jeeps that are useful in transporting soldiers across open terrain.
Olexander Kharchenko, the chairman of the newly minted ad hoc commission, stressed that Ukrainians “need to dismiss the myth that our soldiers are barefoot, naked, cold and hungry.” Their “basic needs are provided for—uniforms, foodstuff and fuel,” he said. However, Kharchenko stressed that major components of the Ukrainian forces’ equipment cannot be provided by the central Ukrainian government or by Kyiv municipal authorities. Red tape and large budget deficits hinder Ukraine’s ability to adequately provide for its soldiers and their families.
In these circumstances, private initiatives to support Ukraine’s soldiers are necessary and welcomed by local authorities. Ukrainian soldiers are now much better equipped and provided for than in the initial days of the conflict, admitted the officials. Although troops have access to basic necessities, soldiers still lack more advanced needs such as adequate vehicles, bulletproof vests, technical equipment, and hi-tech walkie-talkies. Wealthy Kyiv residents, in tandem with private initiatives, can play an important role in providing expensive equipment to Ukraine’s soldiers. Kyiv mayor and former boxer Vitaliy Klitschko and other well to do residents, have been contributing their own resources toward the needs of the soldiers. Even those residents who do not have enough resources to contribute to the ATO should realize that Ukraine is in a state of war and act appropriately, said Kharchenko. “Everyone should be restricted in their use of entertainment, otherwise we will have to respond with certain administrative constraints,” he emphasized.