Tanki online

Online fundraising raises millions as insurgent political strategies arm Ukraine

A crowdfunding initiative launched in a desperate bid to secure new military hardware for beleaguered Ukrainian forces has raised nearly $30 million in less than three weeks as a variety of tactics honed in Western electoral politics prove valuable in the context of the war in Ukraine.

“We always get new donors, every day they send their money – small donors, big ones, companies,” Czech Deputy Defense Minister Tomas Kopecny said. Washington Examiner, estimating that they had raised between $27 and $28 million. “And with over $25 [million]we have already acquired and shipped the necessary equipment there.

To put into perspective, when the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague started fundraising, the value of the military assistance provided by the Czech government itself totaled approximately $27 million; government assistance would increase further to $31 million. Much of this funding comes from Czech citizens who send their money directly to a bank account set up for this purpose by the Ukrainian Embassy in Prague, but accounts that accept transfers in euros and US dollars have allowed international donors to join the effort.


“Ukrainian Armed Forces and Citizen Self-Defense Units now urgently need military equipment to defend their homes, homeland and national sovereignty,” the Ukrainian Embassy said in a note that underlined How to make a donation. “The Embassy and the Office of the Defense Attaché of Ukraine in Prague have a list of specific needs of the Ukrainian military, which can be immediately obtained from Czech defense companies. This fundraiser will allow all friends and supporters of Ukraine to help stop Russian aggression.”

Online fundraising initiatives have propelled many insurgent politicians to victory over a more vaunted foe, from Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton to countless Tea Party triumphs against Republican incumbents. Now the crowdfunding campaign is fueling a real war.

“It’s quite substantial. I haven’t heard of more crowdsourcing for military hardware in the world,” said Petr Tuma, visiting scholar at the Atlantic Council, a career Czech diplomat. Washington Examiner. “It’s really considerable, too, because we [have] only 10 million people in the Czech Republic. So that’s huge.

These donations bolstered a broader transatlantic effort to provide a variety of weapons, such as shoulder-mounted anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, which Ukrainian forces have used for punitive purposes.

“Our brave defenders continue to inflict devastating casualties on Russian troops,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a March 15 video. address. “Soon the number of downed helicopters from Russia will reach hundreds of units. They have already lost 80 warplanes. Hundreds of tanks and thousands of other pieces of equipment. In 19 days, the Russian army has lost more in Ukraine than in two bloody and long wars in Chechnya. Why?”

Zelensky used the regular Kyiv addresses as a way to provide visible leadership to embattled and embattled Ukrainians, to call on Russian citizens to protest the war, and to pressure the US and European governments to provide more aid. energetic.

“Another difficult day, which is still getting closer to our victory. Approach to peace for Ukraine,” he said on Tuesday. “As before, the enemy is confused. They did not expect such resistance. They believed their propaganda, which had been lying about us for decades.

These wartime speeches have drawn analogies to Winston Churchill’s oratory during the Battle of Britain. And yet, as Czech defense officials and Ukrainian diplomats turn small donations into high-grade ammunition, Zelensky has deployed another staple of modern electoral politics – the direct-to-camera technique often used to push the most important messages of a campaign.

“Russian conscripts! Listen to me very carefully,” Zelensky said in the latest broadcast. “I know you want to survive. We hear your conversations in the intercepts, we hear what you really think about this senseless war, this shame and your condition. … Therefore, I offer you a choice. On behalf of the Ukrainian people, I give you a chance. Chance to survive. If you surrender to our forces, we will treat you as people are supposed to be treated.

This three-pronged messaging strategy may have effects he didn’t expect when the war started. The war room updates have made Zelensky, in his olive drab fleece jackets and t-shirts, an international icon, to the point that other politicians working on the crisis are seen as emulating the Ukrainian leader.

French President Emmanuel Macron has worn immaculate dark suits for much of his public life. Today, as he tries to broker a ceasefire in Ukraine as he stands for election – French voters head to the polls in April – his official photographer released pictures of Macron working late in at night in casual clothes.

“Now I’ve seen it all: Macron is cosplaying Zelensky,” Anton Shekhovtsov, director of the Vienna-based Center for Democratic Integrity, wrote on Twitter as the new images of Macron circulated on social media. “Nothing wrong with that, just confirms a very simple fact: the Ukrainian president is now the moral leader of the West.”

Zelensky’s long political reach has forced an uncomfortable American debate over arms deliveries to Ukraine. After days of asking key NATO allies to transfer their legacy fighter jets from the USSR to Ukraine, Zelensky won the backing of key Republican and Democratic senators. Their public support for the transfer of Polish MiG-29 fighter jets has persisted despite President Joe Biden’s fears that the delivery of the warplanes could provoke a retaliatory operation from Russia.

Jana Cernochova, Czech Minister of Defense announcement Sunday that Prague “will at least double” the amount of military aid it provides to Ukraine. She underscored determination to keep aid flowing just hours after a Russian airstrike on the Yavoriv combat training center near the Polish border – a Ukrainian facility used by the United States and other NATO allies, before the recent Russian offensive, to form Ukrainian forces.

“That’s definitely one of the motivations; if you feel the support, as a political leader, of your people, then you are always eager to do it,” Tuma said. “So some kind of encouragement from people, some kind of support for more engagement is valuable and helpful.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stressed two days before the Russian strike on the former training center that military convoys were “legitimate targets” for Russian forces. Yet Kopecny dismissed that statement as a “truism” under the laws of war (“a nonessential statement that looks like an escalation, but really isn’t,” he said) and insisted that NATO would not back down because of the attack on Yaroviv.

“Practically it doesn’t affect what we do in any way,” the Czech deputy defense minister said in Sunday’s interview. “NATO is not afraid of Russia, in terms of being harassed, threatened or pursued from its entrenchments. We will defend NATO territory and every inch of it.

Kopecny stressed that “the feeling I have and everything around me, myself included, is just more resolved to continue what we are doing.” Tuma, the Czech diplomat with an Atlantic Council scholarship, acknowledged that officials involved in such arms deliveries feel “increasingly pressured” by the threat of Russian counter-operations.

“They feel the threat more,” Tuma said. “It’s also increasingly difficult for us to ship it there, as the Russians control more of the ground. It’s still doable, it’s still good, but fewer and fewer options.

American and European allies have often touted the weapons they send to Ukraine, making explicit their supply of many missiles used to target Russian planes and tanks. Still, Kopecny declined to give details of the new equipment, “in view of Russian measures and threats”, beyond pointing out that Czech officials are “aware of the necessary technologies, the necessary equipment” and try to provide as much as possible.

“That’s all they use against advancing tanks, against aerial bombardment,” he said. “It’s already a big amount of money, that’s why we really help the Ukrainians a lot, too… it’s a great help.”

He made no secret of his pride that the crowdfunding campaign exceeded the amount raised so far by a pair of American celebrities who are provide humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees.

“Mila Kunis, the actress, along with Ashton Kutcher, they gave about $20 million, which is a lot. And I was just thrilled that we actually raised more than that,” Kopecny said with a chuckle. , before hoping that they could join forces. “Of course, they are free to contribute a little more than the 20 million dollars … to this account for this purpose as well. Anytime.”


Kunis and Kutcher have raised more than $21 million through a matching donation campaign that they say will generate at least $30 million to feed and house refugees. “Obviously it’s not a competition,” admitted Kopecny. “It’s really about…spreading the word about this particular thing that’s quite unique, as I’ve been hearing about it all over the world.”