Ukrainian troops have weapons, but lack boots and shirts

Ukrainian soldiers ride in the back of a truck to a resting place after fighting on the frontline for two months near Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine on April 30, 2022.

Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

ODESA, Ukraine — In a large open-air market near the Black Seashoppers walk in and out of rusting shipping containers that have been converted into makeshift army surplus stores, scanning row after row of uniforms, boots and tactical gear.

Some are Ukrainian soldiers stocking up on supplies for the battlefield. Others, like former taxi driver Dmytro Kazmirchuk, are volunteers who take on the task of equipping frontline troops who still lack the basics.

“Ukraine was not ready for this war. We never thought that our neighbor, who turned out to be our enemy, would resort to a full-scale invasion,” Kazmirchuk says as he chooses glasses, gloves and camouflage t-shirts for six soldiers he sponsors in Donetsk. “Therefore, not everyone has everything.”

Ukraine’s loudest appeals to its allies have been for fighter jets, air defense systems and long-range weapons to defend. The United States and its allies have responded to many of these calls by providing billions of dollars worth of rockets, tanks, drones and artillery.

Yet, as The Russian War Approaching the six-month mark, Ukraine is also burning through its stockpiles of basic necessities that most modern military take for granted. Now, President Volodymyr ZelenskyUkrainian troops and their followers search for creative solutions to fight their way through the war.

Mykhailo Podolyak, one of Zelenskyy’s top advisers, told NBC News that the Ukrainian military needs continuous resupplies from its allies of food, first aid kits, vehicles, protective equipment, small arms and ammunition. At the height of the Russian offensive, he said, it was firing up to 60,000 rounds a day, forcing Ukraine to respond as well.

Ukraine was already stocking up on US-made javelins before the Russian invasion. Here, a group of Ukrainian servicemen take a shipment of javelins in early February, as Russia positions troops on the Ukrainian border.

Sergei Supinsky | AFP | Getty Images

“Societies in some partner countries do not fully understand the level of intensity of the war in Ukraine,” he said in an interview at the presidential offices of Kyiv. “It’s a massive war, it’s not just a minor regional conflict.”

Part of the challenge in keeping Ukrainian forces supplied is the growing number of people participating in the fight.

As war approached, Ukraine’s armed forces numbered just under 200,000 active duty soldiers, according to a report of the international institute for strategic studies, a London-based security think tank. Russia had more than four times that number, he said.

A few hours later Russia invaded on February 24, Zelenskyy signed a decree ordering a “general mobilization” of the public, recently extended by the Ukrainian parliament until November. Since then, hundreds of thousands of reservists, members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces and others have joined the battle.

“There are also the police and the National Guard (serve) also at the front,” said Yevheniya Kravtchouk, an MP whose husband is in the national police. “They basically have the same needs as our military.”

Ukrainian soldiers are seen along the frontline south of Kharkiv, Ukraine, July 21, 2022.

Wolfgang Schwan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In May, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s armed forces had grown to 700,000. In the same month, he launched a nationwide crowdfunding campaign, United24, to provide donations of cash, medical equipment and defense supplies, audited by Deloitte Ukraine.

Through an online portal, donors are invited to sponsor specific items that, once purchased, are shipped to the frontlines: $4,000 for a metal detector to assist with mine clearance; $80,000 for an armored ambulance.

The project is also trying to acquire a “drone army” to help the Ukrainian military monitor the 1,200-mile long front line. The campaign includes a drop-off site just outside New York where donors can drop off their own hobby drones to send to Ukraine.

With emergency medical supplies also increasingly needed, the project recently said he bought 35 artificial ventilation machines, intended for paramedics and doctors who work around the clock to evacuate troops and wounded civilians near the front lines.

As he practiced intubating a medical dummy in his ambulance at an Odessa hospital, Dr Eduardo Kika said the devices had helped save the lives of patients injured in landmine blasts, and people suffering lung failure or traumatic brain injury who cannot breathe on their own. .

“Unfortunately, we don’t have enough devices. We are running out of ventilators,” the emergency doctor and anesthesiologist said through an interpreter. He added that tourniquets, bandages and haemostatic sponges to control bleeding were also in short supply. “When it comes to the front line, our soldiers need painkillers.”

Some Ukrainians who have joined the fight are turning to family, friends and colleagues to help fill the shortages.

A medical worker takes care of a patient injured in a Russian cruise missile strike on Thursday at a hospital in Vinnytsia, Ukraine, July 15, 2022.

Maxym Marusenko | Nurphoto | Getty Images

On the main thoroughfare of the bustling capital, Kyiv, Georgia restaurant tables overflow with khachapuri (Georgian cheese bread), khinkali dumplings and traditional Georgian wine. But the owner, Chef Alexander, is nowhere in sight.

He serves on the front line and the restaurant declined to provide his last name to protect his safety on the battlefield.

Alexander was deployed without much of the basic equipment he needed, restaurant manager Olga Rogozina said. The restaurant now spends 10% of each bill on the purchase of his equipment: first, night vision goggles, then a Volkswagen to transport him and six of his troop mates.

“All Ukrainian people are helping our army,” Rogozina said. “And if they’re looking for a way to help, they have that way.”

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