At Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s office in Washington on April 18 (from left) are: Col. Sergiy Panchenko, Michael Hrycak, Myron Melnyk and Ihor Rudko.

UAV in action: helping Ukraine’s soldiers get treatment in U.S. military medical facilities

We are currently urging all Ukrainian American Veterans, and Ukrainian Americans, to contact their respective members of Congress to support the following amendment (which was passed by the Senate on September 18 by a vote of 89-8) to the still pending National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. “Section 1250(b) of National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 (Public Law 114-92; 126 Stat. 1068), as amended by section 1237(b) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (Public Law 114-328; 130 Stat. 2495), is further amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

“(12) Treatment of wounded Ukraine soldiers in the United States in medical treatment facilities through the Secretarial Designee Program, including transportation, lodging, meals and other appropriate non-medical support in connection with such treatment, as well as education and training for Ukrainian healthcare specialists such that they can provide continuing care and rehabilitation services for wounded Ukrainian soldiers.”

This provision is important because it will pay for treatment, per diems and other expenses associated with Ukrainian soldiers’ medical treatment. That this provision came to be merits sharing the actions of UAV members.

The logo for the “Made in Ukraine Tech Startup Edition” podcast.

Two new podcasts go beyond the headlines for Ukraine

There is always a steady stream of bad news about Ukraine in the media. Maybe it’s the darker side of human nature or the 24-hour news cycle, but news reports seem to focus on the most negative stories. The war in the East, Vladimir Putin’s insatiable longing for a new Soviet Union and the cynical corruption of Ukrainian bureaucrats and oligarchs scream at us from the headlines and offer little hope for a new, prosperous and globally accepted Ukraine. So I decided to leave the bad news behind and search for inspiring stories about Ukraine and Ukrainians that offer a window on the many positive things that are happening. My first focus is on developments in Ukrainian technology driven by young entrepreneurs and the second is on people who are helping to shape a more favorable image for the country and its people.

Jamestown Foundation supports U.S.-Ukraine naval exchange

WASHINGTON – This August, The Jamestown Foundation sponsored two Ukrainian midshipmen’s participation in a naval exchange with the U.S. Navy. Jamestown closely monitors issues related to Black Sea regional security, and this partnership opportunity was identified during a recent trip by Jamestown President Glen Howard to Ukraine. Working with the U.S. Department of State and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Jamestown provided the additional support necessary to make this exchange possible. Cadet Dmytro Gromov and Cadet Stanislav Voropai, from Ochakiv and Crimea, respectively, are entering their penultimate year at Ukraine’s National University of Odessa Maritime Academy, the country’s top naval college. Jamestown’s sponsorship supported their participation in the Foreign Exchange Training of Midshipmen (FOREXTRAMID) 2017, a program in which midshipmen from foreign navies are invited by the U.S. chief of naval operations to participate in summer cruises.

Russia imprisons Crimeans in inhuman conditions for their faith or pro-Ukrainian stand

Forty-six-year-old Volodymyr Balukh is suffering from heart problems and high blood pressure after six months in a filthy and overcrowded Crimean SIZO [remand unit].  The recognized political prisoner’s very life could be in danger, and he is just one of at least 28 men held on fabricated charges in conditions which are prohibited under international conventions as inhuman and degrading. Concerns have long been expressed about the conditions in the Symferopol SIZO, where Russia is currently holding Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz; Mr. Balukh, a pro-Ukrainian activist; 15 Crimean Muslims accused of involvement in a peaceful organization which is legal in Ukraine and most countries; and at least 10 Ukrainians charged with fictitious and constantly changing “sabotage” plots. There is grave overcrowding, and the men have to take turns to sleep on the available bunks. The Crimean Human Rights Group points out that in summer the temperature in Symferopol can reach 40 degrees Celsius.  The cells in which the men are held are small, with only slightly more than two square meters per person, against the sanitary norm of four square meters. Relatives explain that there is a total lack of any free or personal space, and the cells at the moment are unbearably hot and stuffy.  The men have to wash their underwear, etc.

Road to dispossession: Locals pushed aside for trans-Crimea highway

KERCH, Ukraine – For years and even decades, residents of the Crimean city of Kerch have tended orchards and gardens in the green dacha community of Zaliv. But in recent days they have watched in anger and sadness as bulldozers and other construction machinery have begun clearing the area to make way for the construction of a highway that is planned to someday span the entire Crimean peninsula and connect to the Kerch Bridge. The local Kerch.FM outlet posted a video in which angry locals watch as their trees crash to the ground. “These are real barbarians,” one woman is heard saying. “It looks like they are enjoying destroying not just the land, but the people, too.

Participants of the 2017 Ukraine Little League Championships in Kremenets, Ternopil Oblast.

Rivne team wins Little League Championship, advancing to regional tournament in Poland

KREMENETS, Ukraine – Nine all-star teams from across Ukraine descended upon the city of Kremenets, Ternopil Oblast, on Sunday, May 28, to compete in the 18th Ukraine Little League Championship for children age 10-12. A total of 105 players, boys and girls, were set to compete on May 29, after the opening ceremony. The nine teams were divided into two groups. Eventually, the winners of both groups would face off in the final. This year, each manager needed to bring original birth certificates to certify the age of each player.

United Help Ukraine members, guests and donors gather following the April 22 classical piano concert to benefit Ukraine’s wounded soldiers.

The diaspora answers: United Help Ukraine assists in the face of Russian aggression

When Russian aggression in Ukraine escalated into occupation of Ukrainian territory, deadly conflicts and full-scale war, Ukrainian people at home and abroad joined together to defend the homeland.  Courageous Ukrainian men and women took a stand against a foreign super-power and, by their example, inspired a group of Ukrainian Americans to support Ukraine in this difficult time. Founded in 2014, United Help Ukraine, Inc. (UHU) has existed to ensure that the people on the frontlines are cared for when they come home wounded, and that their families are supported when the fighters do not come home at all.  UHU also provides support for those displaced from eastern Ukraine by the fighting. A charitable non-profit 501(c)(3), UHU is a 100-percent volunteer-based organization.  Over the past three years, its volunteers have dedicated tremendous time and effort to fulfilling UHU’s four principal initiatives: 1) Medical Aid, 2) Defender’s Aid, 3) Humanitarian Aid, and 4) Raising Awareness.  Thanks to their tireless work and the generosity of donors, UHU has raised more than $245,140 toward its four initiatives since the organization’s inception.  Together with hundreds of volunteer hours – and less than 0.7 percent of donations going toward operating costs – UHU has effectively funded numerous projects necessary to carry out its key objectives. As part of its Medical Aid initiative, UHU purchased a state-of-the-art 3-D scanner and delivered it to the Nodus rehabilitation clinic in Kyiv.  The 3-D scanner is now used by Ukrainian doctors in their treatments of soldiers, including both drafted and volunteer warriors.  UHU also ships massive containers of medical supplies to Ukraine.  For example, in 2016, UHU shipped a 40-foot container with 20 pallets of medical supplies donated by the Brother’s Brother Foundation.  Supplies were then distributed to various hospitals in Ukraine, with a special focus on hospitals close to the frontlines.  UHU also works diligently to raise money to fund life-saving medical treatment for wounded Ukrainian warriors.  In recent months, individual fighters were able to receive rehabilitation therapy, mobility vehicles and vital medical treatment because UHU absorbed those costs. In furtherance of its Defenders Aid initiative, UHU has supplied fighters on the frontlines with first aid kits, including gauze, blood-clotting medicine and combat application tourniquets.  The organization has also shipped uniforms, boots and thermal clothing, as well as new socks, undergarments and t-shirts to the wounded at Ukrainian hospitals.

Motrja Bojko-Watters (left) of the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee and Oksana Kiciuk-Kulynych, organizer of a humanitarian aid drive in Yonkers, N.Y.

Yonkers community rallies with donations for wounded Ukrainian soldiers and refugees

Springtime is a chance to clean, de-clutter and organize. After starting this task, I realized that I had an extra wheelchair, a walker and many other items I no longer needed. It immediately brought to mind images of the wounded Ukrainian soldiers whose lives were forever changed by the war. I thought of the many families who had lost everything with the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine. I contacted the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee in Philadelphia, an organization that regularly ships humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and asked if they would accept these items as donations.

Advocacy of Ukrainian American issues begins in earnest in new 115th Congress

WASHINGTON – The Ukrainian National Information Service (UNIS), the Washington public affairs office of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA), hit the ground running in the halls of Congress in the New Year. On January 3, all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a third of the U.S. Senate were sworn in to the 115th Congress by their respective leaders. The traditional first day of a new congressional session provides a unique opportunity to visit with congressional offices as many of them have Open Houses for their constituents, policy-makers and guests. UNIS Director Michael Sawkiw Jr. attended several swearing-in ceremonies and subsequent receptions including those of: Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.); Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.); Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.); newly elected Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.); newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.); Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and newly elected Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), brother of former Congressional Ukrainian Caucus co-chair Mike Fitzpatrick. While at the receptions, Mr. Sawkiw highlighted the community’s concerns regarding assistance to Ukraine; continued sanctions against Russia for its lack of implementation of the Minsk peace accords; the illegal annexation of Crimea and human rights abuses in Crimea and eastern Ukraine; as well as continued economic assistance to Ukraine.

Rep. Sander Levin is flanked by Borys Potapenko (left) and Ostap Kryvdyk.

On Russia’s war in Ukraine and areas for increased U.S.-Ukraine cooperation

WASHINGTON – During the first week of the lame-duck session of Congress, Ostap Kryvdyk, adviser on international relations to Andriy Parubiy, chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, visited Washington and New York City. He was in the U.S. at the invitation of a number of American and Ukrainian American organizations and advocates, including the Organization for Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine (ODFFU), Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations (CUSR), Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) and the Ukrainian Federation of America (UFA). Mr. Kryvdyk was accompanied to many of the meetings by Ukrainian American community representatives Iryna Mazur and Borys Potapenko, as well as by Ukrainian Embassy staff. They met with senior staff of the co-chairs of Congressional Ukrainian Caucus and the Senate Ukraine Caucus, including Reps. Sander Levin (R-Mich.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Sens.