January 29, 2015

Canadians assist in delivery of military gear for Ukraine


KYIV – To mark the arrival of Canadian non-lethal aid to the Ukrainian military via transport plane, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress collaborated with Babylon ‘13 to produce a film highlighting the cooperation between the Ukrainian Canadian community and the government of Canada to ensure that these desperately needed military grade winter uniforms, boots and other assistance reached Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines.

According to a January 9 news release, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) requested that Canadian volunteers participate in this mission, and they served under the stewardship of Canada’s Ambassador to Ukraine Roman Waschuk.

Lenna Koszarny, chair of the UCC Ukraine Advisory Council, led the Canadian volunteers, who are long-term, active members of the Ukrainian business community. The UCC thanked and recognized Roman Sawycky and Bryan Disher for their contribution. The Canadians worked in tandem with Ukrainian volunteers led by Bohdan Kovalev, a member of the Volunteer Council appointed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and overseen by Yuriy Biryukov and David Arakhamia, who are assisting the Ukrainian government in reforming the Ministry of Defense.

“What impressed us most was how quickly the aid was sent to Ukraine by the Canadian government then deployed by the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and volunteers to soldiers in need of warm clothing,” stated Ms. Koszarny. “The aid was announced by Canadian Defense Minister Rob Nicholson on November 26 [2014]; the transport plane left the next day and arrived in Ukraine on November 28. Thousands of items were unloaded from the transport plane to a central army warehouse, massive inventory counts were undertaken, all overseen by volunteers. Within a week of the plane landing in Ukraine, boots, jackets, pants and gloves were already being worn by soldiers in forward bases prior to deployment to the frontlines,” she noted.

“Our volunteers look forward to meeting the next shipment of Canadian non-lethal aid that is arriving by ship this week in Odessa, Ukraine,” Ms. Koszarny added.

This short film documents the arrival of the aid in Kyiv, then distribution to one of the army bases, to the soldiers of the 93rd Battalion stationed outside of Dnipropetrovsk, prior to their deployment to the frontlines. Babylon ‘13, a Ukrainian art collective, began documenting the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine from its first days in November 2013 and its members donated their time to shoot, edit and produce this film (the six-and-a-half-minute film may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5-fHMa3Kkk& feature=youtu.be).

UCC President Paul Grod said, “We wish to thank the government of Canada for its unwavering commitment to Ukraine during these challenging times precipitated by Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea and the Russian-led and sponsored aggression in Eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Canadian community applauds the principled stance adopted by Canada in its support of Ukraine. I would like to express our sincere gratitude for this much-needed non-lethal aid, training and other support provided to the Ukrainian military.”