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Following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) began raising funds for non-lethal military aid through its U-Help fund.

 

In July 2023, the AFUO rebranded U-Help as the Defend Ukraine Appeal. The aim remains the same – all funds raised through the Defend Ukraine Appeal continue to be directed to providing non-lethal military aid to the brave defenders of Ukraine, and continue to be managed by the AFUO.

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Raised as of 30 June 2023

Around $500,000 has been donated to the Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) Unite with Ukraine initiative, and others.

 

The remaining funds have been allocated through an AFUO community grants program which provides non-lethal military aid to family and friends of Australian-based Ukrainian community members who are at the frontline of defence in Ukraine.

Community grants program

Managed by the AFUO Defence sub-committee, the community grants program has spent approximately $270,000 on items required by frontline defenders, such as off-road vehicles, protective gear, drones, communication equipment and generators.

 

Following applications received by local Australian-Ukrainian community members, the sub-committee assesses requests based on set criteria, including real-time needs on the frontline. A global supply chain with a secure procurement and delivery process delivers the aid right to where it is needed. Given limited funds, the sub-committee constantly compares prices worldwide, develops partnerships to get permanent discounts and combines requests to benefit from bulk prices.

 

To date, support has been provided to over 40 brigades, stretching across the entire frontline, including Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions. Each one of the brave defenders who received military aid has sent messages of appreciation to Australia and Australians for their support.

 

With a network of trusted logistics partners, organisations and volunteers, the Ukraine Defend Appeal will continue to raise funds to provide speedy, direct help to the relatives and friends of our community members. By managing the entire procurement process, the AFUO can trace every dollar spent, ensure the aid is securely delivered and report back to the community.

 

The community grants program revealed 3 major needs:

Life Saving Equipment

includes walkie-talkies, night vision goggles, binoculars, surveillance equipment. Approximately $180,000 was spent on purchasing life saving equipment.

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Vehicles

second-hand off-road vehicles that assist with medical evacuations, transport of personnel and logistics. Approximately $75,000 was spent on purchasing vehicles.

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Protective Gear

includes helmets, bulletproof vests, gloves, footwear, thermal clothing, sleeping bags. Approximately $15,000 was spent on purchasing protective gear.

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Some of the vehicles delivered to Ukraine

Stories from the people we helped via Community Grants

Vehicle delivered by Defend Ukraine Appeal becomes a lifesaver 

In Hanna Bohatyrova’s words: “With the support of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, we acquired a car for my dear classmate. This vehicle has assisted my friend and his team in countless ways and has helped get out of harm’s way.

 

In this video, you can see the moment when the car became a lifesaver. After getting caught under enemy fire, my friend Yura and his team were able to evacuate quickly and safely. They were being watched from the air, which allowed us to learn about the end of the shelling.

 

Before the war, my friend managed his own business, but the frontline did not break his optimism. Yura, known for his jokes, does not lose his sense of humour even in difficult times.

 

After the war, Yura dreams of returning to his native Kyiv and personally taking his son to school every day. So we are waiting for victory!”

Drones for the 22nd Brigade

Surveillance equipment such as drones remains one of the top needs for many Brigades that we are helping today. Drones are highly critical and help save many lives, but they are also expendable.

 

We were proud to see familiar faces of soldiers from the 22nd Brigade in the news. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with them in person to better understand their needs in one of the toughest, most dangerous locations on the frontline.

 

In his recent post President Zelenskyy mentions drones as one of the most critical needs for the soldiers.

 

At Defend Ukraine Appeal, we are proud to have helped the 22nd Brigade recently by supplying drones to them from Australia with the support of our community.

Professor from the tranches becomes Ukraine’s Ambassador to Hungary

Professor Федір Шандор (Fedir Shandor) of the University of Uzhhorod in Ukraine has been approved to be appointed as the new Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary!

 

At the Defend Ukraine Appeal we are proud to have supported Professor Shandor, the 68th Battalion and the 101st Brigade with communications equipment and a reconnaissance drone that was supplied to them last month.

 

Earlier last year, Professor Shandor became an internet sensation after a viral image emerged of him conducting lectures straight from the trenches. He has been awarded ‘The Golden Cross’ by General Valerii Zaluzhnyy for his service in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where he enlisted as a volunteer.

 

We wish him success as he continues to serve Ukraine in his new role as the Ambassador of Ukraine to Hungary. Thank you Professor. Slava Ukraini!

Critical life-saving gear for the 23rd Separate Rifle Battalion

A dear friend of a NSW community member recently received a care-package from the Defend Ukraine Appeal, sponsored by your generous donations.

 

Crucial life-saving gear was purchased for the Operational-Tactical Unit Liman. Ukrainian defenders of the 23rd Separate Rifle Battalion received helmets, a thermal imaging device and walkie talkies.

 

The helmets are saving lives, the thermal imaging device allows the team to see when the enemy is approaching at night, and the walkie-talkies ensure there is reliable communication to help coordinate combat and logistics.

 

These items are truly making a real difference, aiding Ukrainian soldiers to perform their duties efficiently and safely

A night vision device saved the life of a cousin of a NSW community member

“When the Defend Ukraine Appeal fund was announced I was one of the first to reach out for help”, says Vasyl from NSW.

 

“A few months earlier my cousin had started service on the eastern front as a squad leader. The squad were begging among friends and relatives for a night vision device.

 

I contacted the Defend Ukraine Appeal. They instructed on the proper procedure and helped with docs, finding, buying and even delivering the gadget – it all took only a couple of weeks.

 

The following week the squad were on a mission at the outskirts of the frontline. Total darkness. Moscow nazi artillery working non-stop. Abruptly, five enemy tanks appeared from multiple directions rushing towards the guys at full speed.

 

It was that night vision device which allowed the servicemen to notice the quickly approaching danger. The squad members rushed towards their car as the enemy tanks opened fire, with a few shells exploding in close proximity as they were running and driving away.

 

They made it back and alive. But a few seconds delay might have cost my cousin and his squad members their lives.

 

My family is in eternal debt to every single philanthropist who has donated to the Defend Ukraine Appeal.”

Reporting on the drone Fundraiser

On July 24th, the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO’s) Defend Ukraine Appeal launched an urgent fundraiser for a Mavic 3 drone. In less than 2 weeks, we were able to raise $3,440 with the generous support of 42 donors!

 

The drone is already doing life-saving work on the frontline in Ukraine and the boys from the 128th Brigade are extremely grateful for the Australian support!

 

Here is their message: “Thank you, Australia, for showing us that we are not alone and that we stand with Ukraine. Thank you, Australia. Here in Ukraine, we appreciate your support and solidarity. This is the second Mavic drone we received from Australia. These drones are life savers. You are amazing people. Thank you, Australia!”

Sirko Drones for 126th Territorial Defence Brigade

In this video, Tania Tkachuk, President of the Association of Ukrainians in Tasmania tells us that the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) Defend Ukraine Appeal “has supported many Tasmanians by providing vital protective items and devices to their family members and friends who are currently fighting on the frontline in Ukraine.”

 

One of those devices is a drone complex called Sirko that has already saved many lives.

 

Two Sirkos and a communications system were provided to the 126th Territorial Defence Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who had connections to our Tasmanian-Ukrainian community member.

 

The message from the brigade was deeply appreciative: “Thank you for your donations, and your belief in our victory. Thank you to the AFUO that during the history of its existence, it has supported Ukrainian statehood and the will of the Ukrainian people for democracy.”

Tools and a thermal imaging device for the 26th artillery brigade

The brother of one of our NSW community members, who is defending the area under Bakhmut, asked for help with purchasing tools to fix his brigade’s howitzer. This artillery brigade received foreign equipment which has to be services after 400 rounds; it has already fired more than 5,000 rounds and constantly needs to be repaired. Since the Ukrainian defenders can’t send the howitzer away to be serviced, they need to repair it themselves.

 

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) was proud to support the brave men of the 26th Brigade by providing professional tool sets and a thermal imaging device.

 

If you would like to support Ukraine’s brave defenders, please consider donating to the Defend Ukraine Appeal.

Reconnaissance vehicle for a former coal mine worker

When courage is the only option, ordinary people do extraordinary things. The cousin of one of our NSW community members volunteered to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A coal mine worker, with no previous military training, decided to take on the mammoth task of defending his country, Ukraine, when it was invaded by russia.

 

Leaving behind his wife and two daughters, this brave man went straight to Eastern Ukraine’s front line. With his iron will and determination, he took part in some of the most gruelling battles for the country’s freedom, liberating a significant part of the Kharkiv region from russia’s forces. This is the kind of spirit that moves mountains and redraws borders of human bravery.

 

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) was proud to stand by this hero, providing a vehicle for his team’s reconnaissance work. It’s a small token of our shared commitment to freedom and the principles that bind us as a global community.

Surveillance device for a relative of a community member from Western Australia

A heartfelt message from the servicemen of the 301 Aircraft Missile Regiment!

“We are very grateful to Australia for providing us with a surveillance device. With its help, we have been able to detect and prevent enemy attacks in a timely manner, saving innocent lives.”

 

Our Defend Ukraine Appeal program was able to help this regiment after a relative of one of its members, now living in Western Australia, came to the AFUO for help. The relative explained this brave hero had selflessly enlisted in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, only two weeks after the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Leaving behind his wife and two daughters he was immediately thrust into the war, taking up duties in a mobile fire group within the Air Force. His mission: to neutralise enemy cruise missiles, drones, and rotorcraft posing a threat to civilians and the military.

 

We regularly receive messages of gratitude from those whose lives have been preserved by your donations. These contributions aren’t just financial aid – they’re life-saving. We welcome you to join our Army of Givers.

Honouring our Hero

We are deeply saddened to report that Senior Sergeant Eduard Biliy of the 67th Mechanised Brigade, Anti-tank Battalion, tragically lost his life while bravely defending Ukraine. Just a month ago, the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) was honoured to help him and his battalion with non-lethal military aid, thanks to a request from our Tasmanian community member Lana Neads, Eduard’s sister.

 

Originally from Cherkasy region, Eduard graduated from university as a hydromelioration specialist. After his military service, Eduard worked as an assistant investigator, then as a Police inspector. For 3 years prior to russia’s full-scale invasion, Eduard worked as the head of security for a large grain company. At the end of 2022, he joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine and served as the commander of the anti-tank guided missile division. The life of this brave soldier was cut short in the Luhansk region during a combat mission. He was 48 years old.

 

We extend our deepest condolences to Lana Neads and her family. Eduard’s ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten. Thank you, Eduard, for your bravery and commitment. You epitomised selflessness and courage, and your legacy will continue to inspire!

Thermal imaging device for a brother of a Tasmanian community member

The brother of one of our Tasmanian community members is currently serving in the 95th Air Assault Brigade, a unit of Ukraine’s rapid reaction force. The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) was proud to support this brave young man in the fight for Ukraine’s freedom by providing a thermal imaging device.

 

Here is what Dariia, the sister of the brave defender, says: “My brother, a true Ukrainian patriot, is serving in the Armed Forces and even left his university studies to do so. During a fierce battle, he was critically injured by shrapnel, but returned to the front line after rehabilitation. His unit, encircled and attacked in Bakhmut, lost all their belongings. Thanks to the people of Australia and the AFUO, they managed to recover some of their lost equipment.”

 

What are heartbreaking tales to many, are the everyday realities of Ukrainian defenders. Even a minor contribution can save someone’s life.

Surveillance equipment and body armour for a former accountant and his battalion

The cousin of one of our NSW community members was called up to defend Ukraine at the beginning of this year. He had no previous military training and was a finance professional, specializing in accounting and audit, before russia’s full scale invasion. Leaving a wife and two young children behind, this brave hero joined the National Guard of Ukraine. 

 

His father could not bear the thought of letting his son go on his own, so volunteered to join the battalion together. After a couple of months of training, the father and son set off to defend Avdiivka, an area with some of the heaviest fighting in the Donetsk region.

 

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) was proud to support these brave men in the fight for Ukraine’s freedom, by providing surveillance equipment and body armour.

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