After vehemently denying his intentions to attack Ukraine, Russia’s Vladimir Putin launched a ‘special military operation’ in the Donbas region on Thursday. Ukrainian citizens were left in a state of shock as they were plunged into war with missile strikes and explosions near major cities. At the time of writing, police say 137 people have been killed and another 316 are wounded.
‘President Putin has chosen a path of bloodshed and destruction by launching this unprovoked attack on Ukraine,’ Boris Johnson wrote of the situation on Twitter. ‘The UK and our allies will respond decisively… This is a catastrophe for our continent.’
Although UK officials have promised to impose severe sanctions on Russia and rally other countries to support Ukraine, there is an undeniable feeling of disbelief, dread, and helplessness as millions of us watch tanks roll across the Ukranian border on TikTok or see footage of obliterated town centres on every mainstream news outlet.
So, for those of us wanting to help, we have researched calls to action from protest groups and reputable charities that want your help supporting the people of Ukraine in whatever small way we can during this horrifying eruption of violence.
Write to your MP
Never underestimate the power of the pen and putting pressure on politicians. While severe sanctions on Russia have been promised, public engagement with the issue will ensure officials follow through on making the restrictions as tough as they claim they will be.
To get you started, there’s a draft letter (here) by the Association Of Ukrainians In Great Britain, which can be tailored and updated as the situation develops. The document allows you to insert the name and contact detail of your local MP (which you can find here) and, very importantly, add your own contact details and signature.
Demonstrate at the Russian embassy
Hundreds of people demonstrated outside the Russian embassy in London on Wednesday night with signs that read: ‘Putin hands off Ukraine’ and ‘Ukraine will never surrender’. Organised by a woman called Natalia and promoted by the organisation Ukranian London, the protest was the first of many. Rallies will also take place outside Downing Street on Thursday and outside of the Russian Embassy on Saturday.
‘We didn’t sleep last night,’ Lawyer and member of the British Ukrainian Law Association Sergiy Burnus, who attended the protest on Thursday, told Grazia. ‘We came to protest against the Russian aggression, which is unprecedented and, I believe, the start of World War Three. It could be prevented—but the world didn’t do enough.
‘We’re trying to request more severe sanctions for Putin than those that were announced today or yesterday by the British government. They’re not targeting oligarchs or Russian money. Obviously, now Ukraine is under strike and cut off form the world there is no civilian connection. The airports are closed. The air space is closed. We need military support from the UK because…in a few days the Ukrainian military’s resources will be exhausted.’
Educate yourself with reliable sources
Finding information about the Russian invasion can be overwhelming. But the Ukrainian Institute recommends reading The Kyiv Independent and The New Voice Of Ukraine for reliable and accurate reporting. They’ve also suggested following Ukranian based journalists including Olga Tokarjuk, Christopher Miller, Nika Melkozaerova and Illia Ponomarenko for further information.
Help Russian Protestors
Many Russian citizens are against Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and have taken to the streets for anti-war protests. Threatening treason charges, the police arrested roughly 1,700 people in cities across the country after they took to the streets to demonstrate. But as opposition voices have continued to be utterly squashed many are concerned the backlash against Putin will be short lived.
Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption activist was wrongly arrested two years ago and has since had his entire network of activists outlawed. Amnesty International have started a campaign to set him free for his own wellbeing and in the hope that the ill-treatment of government critics will stop. Sign here.
Donate money for military supplies
In this conflict, money matters. Thanks to previous public donations, Ukraine’s army is much better equipped than it was when Russia invaded in 2014. But supplies are still needed and contributing money to Kyiv-based charity Come Back Alive (instructions here) or Army SOS (here) will ensure Ukranian forces have the training, auxiliary equipment, specialised software, body protection, drones, food, shields and ammunition that they need during the conflict.
Donate money to help war victims
‘There are 7.5 million children in Ukraine caught up in this adult war,’ Save The Children’s Head Of Conflict James Denselow told Grazia. ‘Children woke up in Ukraine this morning to air raid sirens, a declaration of martial law and the sounds of war.’
‘Many were rushed to metro stations and other forms of shelter,’ he continued. ‘Tens of thousands of terrified children have already been forced from their homes into sub-zero wintery conditions. The risk to their mental health and potential for long-term trauma cannot be underestimated and they will desperately need our help in the weeks ahead.’ Donate to provide emergency winter and hygiene kits and specialist support through Save The Children’s emergency fund.
British-Ukrainian Aid is also raising money to support victims of the conflict, including the injured and wounded, orphaned children, the elderly, internally displaced persons and families who have lost their breadwinners. Donate here.
Donate money for first aid kits
United Help Ukraine are providing lifesaving first aid kits and other medical supplies to the front lines of the conflict. They’re also working with Ukraine’s emergency response organisations to prepare humanitarian aid to civilians that have been affected by Russia’s attack. Donate here.
Donate money for emergency response
Razom For Ukraine are raising money get essential goods to Ukraine. They’re also distributing funds to translate important documents and sources, get volunteers on the ground, share vital information, and fundraise for further emergency needs. Donate here.
Donate money for paramedics and doctors
Sunflower of Peace, a fundraising project created by Katya Malakhova, is gathering funds to prepare first aid medical backpacks for paramedics and doctors in Ukraine. As Malakhova wrote on the fundraising page: ‘Each backpack has the ability to save up to 10 lives: Ukrainian soldiers, civilians, volunteers, and children. These backpacks are designed for a second level of medical care in terms of combat action, according to the standards of tactical medicine (Tactical Combat Casualty Care), namely the level of paramedics, arrow-sanitary department.
The backpack’s contents are specially designed to be used by highly skilled military combat groups – marines, special forces units and intelligence. These groups operate in areas without access to MedicalFacilities or Emergency Care. Therefore, it’s crucial that each combat group have a soldier capable of acting as a medic on the spot.’ Donate here.
Donate money for clean water
Red Cross has launched an emergency fundraising appeal in response to the attack on Ukraine: ‘The heightened uncertainty is taking a huge toll on people,’ Head of Emergencies, Luke Tredget told Grazia. ‘Ensuring the delivery of essential services is our main priority right now.’
Their humanitarian aid teams are already responding to severe water shortages after intensified fighting left several water stations and pipelines which serve more than one million people, out of order. They are also prioritising health care, and psychosocial support.
Donate money for wounded military and their families
Revived Soldiers Of Ukraine provides medical aid to Ukrainian soldiers and their families, as well as civilians affected by living in a conflict zone. They have tirelessly helped hospitals treat wounded soldiers by supplying them with medical aid and supplies as well as promoting cooperation between the US and Ukraine. Donate here.