Euroviews. The European public remains unwaveringly committed to Ukraine

A refugee fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine holds her baby as she sits in a tent at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, February 2022
A refugee fleeing the conflict from neighbouring Ukraine holds her baby as she sits in a tent at the Romanian-Ukrainian border, in Siret, February 2022 Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
Copyright AP Photo/Euronews
By Viktor Mak
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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

European leaders cannot afford to feel complacent. Quite the opposite: they must act decisively and renew their commitments of support so Ukraine can effectively push back and win, Viktor Mak writes.

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In the two years since Russia launched its unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, the vigorous international support that erupted in response has begun to wane. 

The recent spectacle of horse-trading at the US Congress on a new $61-billion funding package, together with emerging divergences of opinion in Europe, indicates that competing priorities are leading to a slow dilution of commitments. 

While Russia may have intended to win with a shock and awe approach, it seems it may be having more success with the long play of attrition and waiting for splits to emerge in the Western alliance.

And while governments in Europe and the US increasingly deliberate over aid, the need for help, if anything, is greater now than at the start of the war as its impacts bury deep into Ukrainian society. 

Millions in need of concrete help

Alongside the extensive military requirements, there are the fundamental needs of a society thrust into near-catastrophic disruption by its imperialistic neighbour. 

There are around 3.7 million internally displaced people struggling to make ends meet. Many are forced to fill the shortfall left by temporary and poorly paid work with humanitarian aid and social security payments. 

A quarter of Ukraine’s population is elderly, many dependent on thinning state pensions, even in a country where intergenerational family support is the norm. Hard hit also are those military and civilian individuals injured by the conflict. 

Where governments’ support is uncertain, individuals and civil society remain steadfast and continue to make a difference.
Ukrainian children hold banners during a protest outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, October 2023
Ukrainian children hold banners during a protest outside the Russian embassy in Bucharest, October 2023AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

There are 300,000 more disabled people in Ukraine now than there were at the start of the war.

Where governments’ support is uncertain, individuals and civil society remain steadfast and continue to make a difference. 

Since the outbreak of the war, the principal vehicle for getting aid to those in need has been the UNITED24 initiative, launched by Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 5 May 2022. 

To date, this platform has collected over €424 million in individual donations. It has helped finance the provision of 48,000 pieces of body armour and 65,000 uniforms for Ukrainian army officials, the acquisition of 30 drones for direct military activity, and the purchase of 35 ALV machines and 10 X-ray machines for medical staff sited on Ukraine’s eastern front.

Others in Europe are chipping in, too

Smaller organisations in Europe have also intervened with great effect. One example is Vitsche, a Berlin-based NGO founded by displaced Ukrainians to counter Russian disinformation efforts and stimulate grassroots support for those fighting on the frontlines. 

In its latest grassroots campaign, Vitsche amassed €30,000 in just three days for the purchase and delivery of an emergency medical unit for hospitals in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. 

This campaign, which was amplified by prominent German social media influencers, will help frontline medical staff evacuate soldiers and civilians quickly and provide a space for potentially life-saving treatment at the frontlines. 

It also follows on from a series of other successful initiatives to get key provisions into Ukraine in the absence of government-level support.

European leaders cannot afford to feel complacent with the recently approved US aid package for Kyiv. Quite the opposite, they must act decisively and renew their commitments of support so Ukraine can effectively push back and win.
Ukrainian children play at an abandoned checkpoint in Kherson, November 2022
Ukrainian children play at an abandoned checkpoint in Kherson, November 2022AP Photo/Bernat Armangue

In the UK, the transport operator Go-Ahead, together with Swindon Humanitarian Aid Partnership, crowd-sourced the purchase of four buses for frontline use across eastern Ukraine. These are now providing Ukrainian service personnel with rest areas and mobile field hospitals. 

Another has been redecorated to feature an enchanted forest and transformed into a children’s Story Bus to provide young people with much-needed respite. 

In Poland, the NGO Project HOPE is delivering primary health care, rehabilitation and psychological support to Ukrainian refugees, including providing mental health assistance to nearly 4,000 children.

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Even in Hungary, a country aligned more with the Kremlin than Kyiv, there have been remarkable, if underreported, acts of civic aid. 

The “10 million trees” efforts of Iván Bojár and his ecological NGO drew on its community of supporters to defy blanket state media criticism of Ukraine and successfully finance the purchase and delivery of vital provisions to those on the frontline, as part of a "Christmas in Kyiv" campaign. Donations included warm clothes and generators to power critical infrastructure during the winter.

The promises we keep

From the outset, European citizens have shown unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s fight for self-determination — providing support and aid that is filling the gaps left by political intransigence and in-fighting. 

European leaders cannot afford to feel complacent with the recently approved US aid package for Kyiv. Quite the opposite, they must act decisively and renew their commitments of support so Ukraine can effectively push back and win.

As the leading historian of the region Timothy Snyder has stated, time and again, it is imperative that we uphold our promises of support to Ukraine, both for the defence of their international rights as a free and sovereign country and in order to keep the peace here in Europe.

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Viktor Mak is co-director of the European Centre for Digital Action (ECDA).

At Euronews, we believe all views matter. Contact us at view@euronews.com to send pitches or submissions and be part of the conversation.

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