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- Ukrainians looking to help their country are finding creative ways to raise funds.
- Websites and Telegram channels offer the possibility of having personalized messages written on artillery shells and parts of destroyed Russian aircraft.
- Civilians will use this funding to purchase equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Ukrainian civilians have found one of the most creative (and perhaps slightly macabre) ways to raise money for their country’s armed forces. For a small donation, the Ukrainian army will write a message of your choice on an artillery shell, which will then be quickly launched towards the invading Russian troops. A four-figure donation will net you a keychain crafted from the skin of a downed fighter bomber or attack helicopter.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has consistently defied expectations. From Surprisingly tough resistance from defenders of Ukraine to loss of largest warship in combat since World War II, it was a unique conflict, to say the least. It has also created new expectations on the modern battlefield, with the widespread use of drones and precision-guided artillerymore the continuous stream of fight videos recorded by phone of the biggest conventional war in Europe for more than 70 years.
It turns out that war funding is no exception. While wartime military aid usually takes the form of state-to-state aid, social media has allowed individuals around the world to donate directly to the Ukrainian military. From the very beginning, the National Bank of Ukraine create an account for the Armed Forces of Ukraine who have accepted Google Pay. As innovative as it was, that was just the beginning.
Now, according Motherboard, a Telegram account in Ukraine coordinates donations with gunners in that country, accepts donations and in turn allows people around the world to “send” personalized messages to the Russian invaders. For $40 you can have the message of your choice written on a 152 millimeter howitzer shell, which a Self-propelled howitzer 2S3 “Akatsiya” Where 2A65 “Msta-B” towed howitzer then lobber against Russian forces.
Writing messages on artillery shells is nothing new; Doing it to raise funds, on the other hand, is. Ukraine’s defense budget in 2021 was just $5.9 billion, a drop in the bucket compared to Russia’s $65.9 billion and the United States $705.4 billion. Kyiv’s economy is also heading for a depression, and the World Economic Forum expects it to decrease by 45% direct consequence of the Russian invasion. Ukraine needs money, wrong, continue the war effort.
A Ukraine-based Telegram channel runs the donation system. After making your donation, you send proof of payment and your personalized message. In return, you will receive a photo of the message written on the artillery shell, which measures approximately 26 inches long and six inches wide. You are free to do whatever you want with the image, uploading to Instagram and other social media obviously being at the top of the list of possibilities.
It’s war, so there are few constraints on the content of the message. The Telegram account says “You can ask to write any text: wish someone a happy birthday/dead in pain, propose marriage, name, Instagram/Telegram username.” So feel free to say something that will get you a temporary Twitter ban. The only limitation is that a photo of “your” case can take several weeks to get back to you.
If you’re feeling particularly generous and also want to buy yourself a piece of aviation history, Ukraine has got you covered. In exchange for a $1,000 donation, Drones for Ukraine will send you a keychain made from the skin of a Su-34 fighter bomber. The Sukhoi Su-34, known as “Fullback” in NATO, is a two-seat aircraft designed to strike ground targets. The keychains are made from “Red 31”, a Su-34 shot down in March 2022 near Borodyanka, Ukraine. Key fobs even feature the Fullback’s distinctive robin’s egg blue paint scheme. Russia lost at least ten Su-34s out of one total operational fleet of 125 “Fullbacks”. Donated funds are used to purchase drones for Ukrainian army troops.
If attack helicopters are more your thing, you can also donate to receive a keychain made from a Kamov Ka-52 “Alligator” attack helicopter. The team organizing the effort currently lists Ka-52 keychains out of stock, but Russia lost at least 16 Ka-52s during the war, so it seems likely they will be back at some point. .
Russia’s brutal invasion pushes the boundaries of social media, allowing non-combatants around the world to participate in strange and previously unthinkable ways. It is very rare to be able to buy relics of a war still in progress to finance one side or another. It’s also probably a tactic here to stay.