Today, Ukrainians are fighting not only for a secure future in Ukraine, but for the democratic values of the civilized world. To that end, they are holding three fronts: military, informational and volunteering.
Despite tough conditions, Ukrainians are managing to raise money for armored personnel carriers, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), thermal imagers and other weapons that will help protect their homeland. Concerned foreigners can also help Ukraine, such as through charitable foundations.
One of the largest organizations is the “Come Back Alive” foundation, which provides competent assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The foundation was founded in May 2014 in the wake of Russia’s first armed attack on Ukraine. Since then, its key goal has been to help the work of the defense forces, save military lives and systematically counter the enemy.
The foundation’s instructors train sappers, UAV operators, gunners and snipers. Since Feb. 24, they have helped to train about 4,000 trained military personnel. The instructors also teach pre-medical care and assist in conducting secret missions, details of which will be made public following Ukraine’s victory.
Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, over five billion Hr. has been collected, equating to about $130 million.
The foundation is actively building partnerships with a number of Ukrainian organizations. These include well-known names such as Nova Poshta, PrivatBank, Monobank, Vodafone, Kyivstar, Uklon, Silpo, Genesis, MacPaw, etc. Cooperation with Western companies so far includes cryptocurrency-related communities.
“We are planning to further develop international [channels of] cooperation. In particular, we are looking to open an office in the U.S. which will provide a representative function abroad for existing Western partners and sponsors,” Oleg Karpenko, director of partner relations at the foundation, told Kyiv Post.
Military assistance projects
The foundation has become the first charitable organization in Ukraine to receive a license for the purchase and import of military and dual-use goods. However, its employees are having regular meetings with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada in order to minimize certain bureaucratic issues and speed up the implementation of military assistance projects.
“We have the right to import dual-use and military goods, but this process is very longwinded and bureaucratic. This complicates our work, but we are working on it,” Karpenko said.
The foundation provides assistance in six main areas:
- aerial reconnaissance (quadrocopters, large UAVs, etc.);
- optics (day and night vision, mobile surveillance systems, etc.);
- communications equipment (walkie-talkies, satellite phones, routers);
- sniper equipment; and
- equipment of command control points (from power sources to large monitors, generators) etc.
The largest one-time purchase was the Bayraktar TB2 complex, consisting of a ground control station, three aircraft and a certain amount of ammunition. The cost was close to t $17 million dollars. Also contracted in Ukraine were 25 Leleka unmanned aerial systems worth about 10 million Hr. in total ($280,000), along with 11 PD2 complexes worth about 11 million Hr. in total ($298,000). In general, every fifth UAV at the front is from the “Come Back Alive” foundation.
Added to that, eleven armored vehicles with a total cost of more than $3 million were purchased for the 36th Marine Brigade. The foundation has transparent financial statements, so every donation and purchase can be tracked in real time.
The foundation has a hotline that processes all applications and there are six managers working around the clock with the military, cruising along the entire front line to check how needs are being met. In total, the foundation employs almost 70 full-time employees and several dozen volunteers.
Recently, “Come Back Alive” announced a new project with the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, related to long-distance work. However, no details have yet been disclosed.
“We can’t tell you about future projects just now, as they are currently undergoing various legal approvals. We are negotiating with both foreign companies and Ukrainian ones. It will definitely be weapons and projects relating to armored vehicles and UAVs,” Karpenko summed up.