Crowdfunding Weapons For Ukraine’s War

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  • In just nine hours, the Prytula Foundation raised $5.5m from private donors.
  • It was done to buy 50 FV103 Spartans used by the British Army.
  • The transfer is the largest of such APCs to Ukraine.

By Christmas, 50 hardly used FV103 Spartan armored personnel carriers (APCs), until recently the property of the British army, and currently in warehouses in secret locations across the UK, will arrive on the frontline in Ukraine’s war with Russia in time for the toughest winter conditions.

Crowdfunding Campaigns

The transfer is the latest example of the extraordinary scale and indeed speed of the crowdfunding campaigns that have been powering the Ukrainian military since the early days of the war. The fundraising appeal for the armored vehicles – tagline “Grab them all” – had been launched by the Serhiy Prytula charity foundation, named after its founder, a popular comedian and TV presenter with a sizable online following. It had been hoped that the $5.5m (£4.8m) required for the major purchase would be secured within a week.

Within nine hours, half of the funds had been pledged by donors, ranging from private individuals to big Ukrainian corporations and smaller high street firms, such as the bedding company World of Mattresses. The money was secured, and the logistics of getting the tracked vehicles onto the muddy plains of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine was being put in motion. The British army has been using FV103 Spartans since 1978 but they are being phased out for newer designs.

NGOs To The Rescue

Prytula himself had visited the UK to check them out. A previous official donation of 35 Spartans by the British government had proven to be a great success on the battlefield. When approached by the Prytula Foundation about gaining more, the generals were said to have been keen. “We are the first organization that is going to actually procure them, not as a state, as a country, but as an NGO who would give them to the ministry of defense of Ukraine,” said Maksym Kostetsky, the transport direction coordinator at the Prytula Foundation.

The idea of citizens and corporations chipping in to arm the fighting forces is hardly new. A BBC documentary in 2020, Crowdfunding: A lesson from World War II, chronicled the extraordinary success of a campaign launched by the press baron Lord Beaverbrook in 1940, at the time of greatest peril, to fund the purchase of Spitfires. The Ukrainian effort, however, comes in a digital age, when it is easier to both donate and for donors to see how their money is working in the field. The campaigns are sometimes long in the planning and complicated.

At other times, the campaigns simply react to events by channeling a sudden surge of anger or frustration. When Elon Musk, the world’s richest man, tweeted his ideas about how to end the war in Ukraine, there was widespread outrage at the suggestion that the country’s territory should be bartered away. It is not only volunteer organizations raising the cash. The Ukrainian government has also got in on the act through its United24 platform for charitable donations.

‘A Joke which Went Out of Control’

The volunteer organizations are not seeking to take over from the government’s efforts, Pysarenko said, but to augment them. They are, she suggested, able to act more nimbly and to drop the diplomatic niceties that might make certain suppliers out of bounds to Kyiv. “It’s almost a joke which went out of control,” laughed Pysarenko. “But that is how Ukrainians are now living. We’re living on the brink of a joke and tragedy. Jokes are trying to offset the scale of the tragedy. Joking is a way to survive this tragedy. Yeah, the lines are really blurred.”

Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale University, became the government-backed charity’s second ambassador after Mark Hamill, the Star Wars actor, as part of an effort to encourage foreign donors in particular to contribute towards buying an anti-drone system after the widespread attacks on Ukraine’s energy system and civilians.

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Source: TheGuardian

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