KIEV, UKRAINE — Among the eclairs and macaroons on the pastry counter of Honey Cafe in Kyiv is a small glazed cake with candy letters spelling “ZSU” on it, which is a Ukrainian word. A letter that represents an army.
Part of the proceeds from cakes sold at the cafe will be donated to the Ukrainian military. This is part of a broader trend in Ukraine for companies and individuals to donate to the military, and it is only a small contribution.
Western governments have provided air defense systems and precision, long-range artillery to help the Ukrainian military turn the tide on the battlefield.
Domestically, Ukrainians fund the military through taxpayers’ money, with about 50% of the budget currently allocated for national defense. In addition, private donations are another source of funding and have surged over the past year.
About a quarter of all Ukrainians, or 24 percent, said in a poll last fall by Ukrainian public broadcaster Suspirun Media that they had donated directly to the military during the war.
According to the Central Bank of Ukraine, 22.3 billion hryvnia, or about $500 million, were donated directly to the military by companies and individuals in the past year. It reached 920 million hryvnia, or $20 million.
Non-governmental groups that solicit donations and purchase equipment donated to the military, such as armored vests, night vision goggles and infrared scopes, are also important sources of support.
One of the largest such organizations, Povernys Zhyvym (Come Back Alive), has raised 5.3 billion hryvnia, or $132 million for the military.
Another Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation has raised 3.5 billion hryvnia, or $87 million. Fundraisers like this foundation often raise money for specific purchases, such as the Bayraktar TB2 attack drone for the Air Force.
Some groups raise money through sales for the procurement of armed forces and weapons. Personalized message about bombs Or cannonballs. The Punisher, a company that makes long-range strike drones, has a website where people can put messages on bombs for a fee, funding the development and production of the weapon.
A large private donation was made in October when General Valery Zardini, commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, donated $1 million to the military from an inheritance received from a Ukrainian-American family.
And for small amounts, restaurants with electronic menus offer customers the opportunity to donate a small amount to the military while paying the bill.
Yurii Shyvala contributed a report from Lviv, Ukraine.