Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Community concerned about Ukraine

    North Port and Southwest Florida Ukrainian American organizations, like other Ukrainian American and Ukrainian Canadian organizations in North America, are following very closely the developments in Ukraine. There are many initiatives to provide humanitarian assistance to the victims of the military aggression of the neo-fascist Russian government headed by President Vladimir Putin. The victims are not only several thousands of wounded soldiers in need of medical supplies, but also thousands of widows and orphans of soldiers who died while defending their country, or who were captured and murdered by Russian soldiers and their hirelings. An additional burden to the cash-poor Ukrainian government, whose treasury was plundered by former president Viktor Yanukovych and his crew, are hundreds of thousands of refugees from occupied Crimea and the eastern regions of Ukraine.

    North Port Branch 56 of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America, known as “Soyuz Ukrayinok” (union of Ukrainian ladies) headed by Ann-Marie Susla of Englewood, is raising funds in tandem with the UNWLA National Headquarters’ UNWLA War Victims Fund. Checks should be made payable to “UNWLA War Victims Fund” and mailed to UNWLA, 203 2nd Ave., New York, NY 10003-5706.

    It has been reported by world media that while Russia is providing most modern arms, in addition to
trained Russian military units, for the terrorist activities in Eastern Ukraine (which president Putin continues to deny), the military units of the Ukrainian Army, National Guard and volunteer battalions rely on their patriotism more than their weapons. When Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko spoke to a joint session of U.S. Congress last month, he thanked the United States for its assistance in confronting the Russian aggression, but he also had asked for more. His phrase “Blankets and night- vison goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with blankets,” preceded his plea
for assistance in defensive lethal arms, which the U.S. government is reluctant to provide.

    Fortunately, the need for defensive lethal arms for Ukraine is beginning to move many leaders of the U.S. Congress to action, as evidenced by the introduction of several bills: H.R. 5190 by Jim Gerlach and 10 other members of Congress (“Ukraine Security Assistance Act of 2014”), H.R. 5241 by Gerry Connolly with Steve Chabot (“Crimea Annexation Nonrecognition Act”), and S. 2828 by Bob Menendez with Bob Corker, Ben Cardin and Ed Markey (“Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014”). A Washington Post article
of Oct. 20 by Senators Carl Levin (D) and James Inhofe (R) stated: “We believe now is the time to add defensive military aid, including weapons, to our support of Ukraine.”

    While Russian officials, including President Putin, continue to deny the presence of Russian military personnel in Ukraine, the Russian human rights activist Yelena Vasilieva reported in her published summary table of the Russian Army losses in Ukraine that up to 4,360 Russian servicemen were killed.

    Atanas Kobryn covers the Ukrainian community for the North Port Sun. He can be emailed at

Our Neighbors — The Ukrainians

by Atanas Kobryn

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