December 2, 2022

Ukrainian American helps funnel supplies to Ukrainian soldiers

8 min read

So Podell, a 31-year-old Ukrainian-American citizen – who is on leave from his job as a lawyer for the music streaming service Spotify in California – spent his life in Silicon Valley, moved to Poland and raised about 13,000. ۔ 100 pairs of shoes for her father and members of her unit.

“I like to tell people I’m a lawyer by day and a boat smuggler by night,” he told CNN earlier this month. A photo she shared with CNN shows her father and another soldier shining with new shoes on top of cardboard boxes.

In some cases, Podell and Western officials told CNN that efforts by private citizens to supply goods and supplies to Ukrainian troops have been quicker and more direct – albeit on a much smaller scale – with government-led measures. in comparison. Shoes are just a necessity – including firearms, ammunition and body armor – which volunteers and private citizens around the world are trying to meet for the Ukrainian army, which has grown in size since the Russian invasion two months ago. I have grown up.

The Biden administration is preparing to announce that it is sending. Another 800 million in military aid In Ukraine, CNN reported on Tuesday. If approved, the latest package would mean that the United States has pledged about 4 3.4 billion in aid to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24.

But for Poodle and others on the ground, aid from the West is still “very slow and not enough,” he said.

Podell said she was able to raise enough money through her contacts at voluntary organizations such as LinkedIn, WhatsApp and Ukraine Now – to buy shoes and get about a dozen tactical vests for her father and members of her unit. Are He had given them T-shirts last week and the soldiers had given him pizza and returned it.

“These people are very grateful,” he said.

Podel stands with a Ukrainian soldier picking up luggage that helped deliver to his father and his unit.

Poodle’s godmother had to carry shoes to Poland on several trips to the border, as Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave the country.

At the time, Podel was living in Poland with his mother and sister, who had fled Ukraine in the early days of the war. But emphasizing how decisive Russia’s defeat in northern Ukraine has been, Podell and his family have felt safe enough in recent weeks to return to their hometown of Lutsk in northwestern Ukraine, as Russia It has shifted its focus to the east of the country.

In a statement to CNN, Sergei Sobko, deputy commander and chief of staff of Ukraine’s regional defense forces, said the military was grateful for all the volunteer support.

“Within a few weeks, the TDF had spread to more than 100,000 people who were ready to defend their country from the enemy,” said Subco, adding that there was a shortage of equipment.

“The Government of Ukraine, our international partners, and (and) prominent Ukrainian charitable foundations immediately joined in their efforts to provide the TDF with all the necessary supplies,” Sobko said. “And the TDF Command makes sure that the brigades and battalions that are on the front line are the first to be protected. We are grateful to the volunteers from Ukraine and abroad for their assistance in equipping our troops.” Do. “

Soldiers say more is needed.

A U.S. official told CNN that in terms of equipment and gear, the U.S. has so far provided Ukraine with tactical secure communications systems, night vision devices, thermal imaging systems, optics, laser range finders, explosive ordnance disposal protective clothing, chemical , Provided biological equipment. Radiological and nuclear safety equipment, and medical equipment, including first aid kits.

The official did not elaborate on how much of the gear has been delivered so far. But Ukraine’s military desperately needs them all, he said, especially thermal imaging cameras, night vision devices and quadcopters. According to a list compiled by the military and obtained by CNN, they also need basic equipment such as seat belts, backpacks, flashlights and gloves.

When it comes to shipping in heavy protective clothing such as body armor, Podell and other volunteers, including two U.S. Marine veterans he met in Poland, faced significant obstacles: Level III and IV body armor through the United States. Is regulated and requires special permission. The State Department often falls short of contracts, and everything that arrives is often backed up at airports.

According to the National Institute of Justice, Level III armor provides protection against rifle rounds and Level IV provides the most ballistic protection.

“One problem is obviously we’re just going through the woods. So you have all kinds of supply conditions that only The first days are difficult. ” “And again, these would mean that you have to spend for these processes.

“Bureaucracy is another challenge,” he said.

“So if I want to send a Level IV (body armor) plate out of the United States, for example, I have to deal with the American bureaucracy, the Polish bureaucracy, the Ukrainian bureaucracy, and then I have to get the money, and I I’m trying to do all this on my cell phone, often somewhere in between, “he said, referring to his trip to western Ukraine.” It’s, you know, not like shopping on Amazon. ۔ And I don’t need just one (plate), I need thousands. “

“The situation is often frustrating,” Podell said.

“Sometimes I get so depressed and depressed that I can’t do anything,” he said. “We don’t have much, and it’s not like it’s over because Russia is focusing on eastern Ukraine. They’re still here.”

“Despite the difficulties, it is worth the effort,” he said.

He told CNN, “Doing what I can on the ground here makes more sense than just sitting in (the US), even if it’s just like that, buying vests and raincoats for them.” Told CNN. “That’s it, well, I’m doing something real. I really see where it’s delivered.”

Podell added that while humanitarian aid is clearly needed, it is nothing more than a short-term solution to the widespread suffering of Russian citizens – if it does arrive at all.

“I support humanitarian aid,” Podell said. “But I think it’s just a band-aid. The most important thing right now is to support the Ukrainian armed forces, because in most cases humanitarian aid is not reaching where it is needed.”

Podell’s father, Voldemir Danielick, told CNN in a video interview that “the most sought after items are helmets, transport vehicles and air defense systems, as they are often airborne, and We can’t save ourselves from that. ”

Ukrainian officials have told the United States that Ukrainian forces need 500 anti-aircraft Stinger missiles a day to prevent Russia from taking control of the country’s skies. Pentagon There are plans to speed up production. Of weapons The shipments have not yet met the demand of Ukrainians.

Medicines are just as difficult. Podell explained that since many pharmacies had been destroyed, Ukrainian women, including themselves, had started driving to Poland to collect medicine and bring it back to the border.

Private citizens are moving forward.

Podell said she was grateful to Spotify for allowing her to take a vacation with her family, as she could not imagine leaving her mother and sister in Ukraine to save for herself while her father was a regionalist. Serving in the Defense Forces. Spotify declined to comment.

“I’m basically the only provider for my family right now,” he said.

But Podel is not alone when it comes to supplying Ukrainian forces.

Another American veteran, who runs a private effort to deliver medical supplies to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians, said on condition of anonymity that “there are thousands and thousands of people like me, hundreds of groups like the one I started, the same Are working. ” To talk freely about his efforts. He said he had raised enough money for 30 military-grade trauma kits, which he had managed to deliver to Ukrainian troops earlier this month, according to photos he provided to CNN. ۔

The Ukraine Freedom Fund, a non-profit organization, is also working to purchase defense equipment for Ukrainian troops, and has already provided thousands of bulletproof jackets, helmets, vehicles and field first aid kits to Ukraine’s regional defense forces. Yes, CNN reported earlier. Kyiv’s deputy mayor on Monday requested 200,000 gas masks from the organization to protect soldiers and civilians from possible chemical weapons attacks.

There are police departments all over the United States. Join the effort.The governors of Iowa and Nebraska, for example, announced earlier this month that their states would send police protective clothing to Ukraine, including military-grade helmets and vests.

Podell, for her part, says she began working with U.S. Marine veterans to try to take advantage of her connections with companies that provide essential equipment such as body armor, helmets and tourniquets. Can

In many cases, volunteers working to bring equipment to Ukraine are making sure that US government agencies are aware of their efforts, especially to ensure that they do not use any of the export controls. Do not break the law. One of the Marines’ veterans, Sharp, told CNN that he had received initial instructions from Justice and State Department officials on how to comply because he had been involved in importing supplies.

State and Justice Departments declined to comment, but a Commerce Department spokesman told CNN that “numerous communities around the United States have donated firearms, ammunition, helmets, bulletproof vests and Ukraine The government and Russia have tried to help resist the attack.

The spokesman added that the Commerce Department was “expeditiously processing applications for the export of firearms and ammunition to Ukraine under its current procedures and authorities”.

The spokesman said the department had advised Americans to consider a number of factors, including whether they intended to ship the goods, a spokesman said. Whether the government has given permission to import or not. Luggage

The spokesman said there were also strict restrictions on exports to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where the war has escalated in recent weeks.

“We owe everything we can to help them, because they are fighting our battle,” Sharp said of the Ukrainians. “And we just need to get more materials and skills and supplies for them. I think that’s our duty, in America, to everyone in the world. They deserve our help.”

Podell’s father, Danielick, said the next big challenge for Ukrainian forces would be to liberate the south from Russia, especially the Kherson area. He said there was also a “permanent threat” from Belarus, and did not believe the threat posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin would ever end.

But he is still convinced that Ukraine will succeed, at least because of the full commitment of its people. In peacetime, Danielick is a writer and historian, and recently a book was published in collaboration with the Polish Consulate in Lutsk. It is about the late President John F. Kennedy’s relations with Poland and Ukraine.

Daniellek lacks journalism. “But there are times when a journalist needs to carry a gun, not a camera,” he told CNN in a loose translation of a Ukrainian proverb.

“We are not surprised how well the Ukrainians have fought,” he said. “Everyone is volunteering. They stepped on the front line. That’s why I’m sure we will win.”

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