In a concise and moving portrait of the history of Ukrainian independence in The Atlantic in February 2022, writer Anne Applebaum laid out what’s at stake in the battle raging there against Russian invaders. A year after the invasion, it remains a rousing account of a people who have one simple but inalienable desire: self-governance.
It is precisely that which Vladimir Putin seeks to destroy — and that which Ukrainian citizens, civilians and soldiers alike, are fighting for in their streets. But as Appelbaum notes, this is not just about Ukraine. For those who love democracy, who believe in its values for all of humanity, it is also about us:
At this moment in history, something unusual is happening there. Among those 40 million, a significant number — at all levels of society, all across the country, in every field of endeavor — aspire to create a fairer, freer, more prosperous country than any they have inhabited in the past. Among them are people willing to dedicate their lives to fighting corruption, to deepening democracy, to remain sovereign and free. Some of those people are willing to die for these ideas.
The clash that is coming will matter to all of us, in ways that we can’t yet fathom. In the centuries-long struggle between autocracy and democracy, between dictatorship and freedom, Ukraine is now the front line — and our front line too.
A year ago, no one expected this war to last so long; Russia was expected to win quickly and brutally. Instead, while some 8 million people have fled the country, those who remain — and those who have gone to help — are keeping Ukraine alive. As President Biden said in his surprise visit to Kyiv this week: “You know, one year later, Kyiv stands and Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.”
For many, particularly the approximately 67,000 people of Ukrainian descent who live in the Philadelphia area, the distant fight remains top of mind — and it does not feel distant at all.
Looking for ways to help Ukraine? Look ahead for easy ways to support refugees and donate to causes working to save children and provide proper medical care to those affected by the brutal attacks.
HOW TO HELP UKRAINE RIGHT NOW
Donate to Ukrainian humanitarian aid
UNICEF has provided medical care, clean drinking water, basic services including water and sanitation, immunization and health care, schooling and learning, psychosocial support, and emergency cash assistance for millions of children so far. You can donate here to keep it going.
Support independent English-language journalism
Subscribe or donate to The Kyiv Independent, a trusted source for English language news from the country’s capital, formed in 2021 by 30 reporters and editors who were fired from the Kyiv Post for demanding editorial independence. As it is everywhere, reliable, fair and independent local news is fundamental to fighting disinformation and ensuring people everywhere know what is really happening on the ground.
Keep up with what’s happening in Ukraine
Besides the Kyiv Independent, last year has seen a lot of incredible reporting from Ukraine, including from Citizen board member and MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi, who this week is again in Kyiv to cover the conflict. We hosted a conversation about Ukraine and democracy with Velshi shortly after his first trip to the country last year.
For daily coverage of the war and its impact, The Wall Street Journal offers a valuable perspective. The New Yorker has incredible narrative journalism about people on the ground. And The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum is delivering both personal stories and smart analysis about Russia. (All require subscriptions to read.)
Learn the history of Ukrainian-Russian relations
There’s a lot to unpack in the history of Ukrainian-Russian relations. Take some time to understand what’s really happening. Check out the Council on Foreign Relations’ explainer. This article from the Kyiv Post debunks the 10 most popular misconceptions about Ukraine. And take some time to listen to this in-depth guide to the history of Ukraine, PRIALIA Podcast.
Help supply Ukrainian hospitals
A crowdfunding campaign through international aid organization Project C.U.R.E. has already delivered over $4 million to send 40-foot containers containing medical equipment and supplies to hospitals in Dnipro, Zaporizhzhia, Kyiv and other areas in need right now. They have now shifted their focus to fundraising for tactical medicine and field surgery supplies.
Rally for Ukraine
The Ukrainian community in Philadelphia has come together a few times already to raise awareness and demand support for the efforts to stop Putin. Follow @ukr_phl_people on Instagram for Ukraine-related events in the city, including several rallies and vigils this weekend.
Fund frontline medical care
Much of the important work of treating the injured in this war has come from the volunteer paramedic group, Hospitallers, made up of more than 500 Ukrainian civilians and others from around the world. They need more supplies — including, immediately, night vision equipment — to continue and expand their work. Read more about them, and donate here.
After initially pulling back from Ukraine because of rapidly escalating danger, international non-governmental organization Doctors Without Borders has been supporting Ukrainian healthcare workers by treating patients near the front lines, running mobile clinics, evacuating patients to safer areas, offering mental health care, and providing supplies and training to health facilities. You can support their work here.
Help the children of Ukraine
Several hundred children have died or been injured in this war. Millions more have fled or been forcibly deported to Russia. Voices of War launched in 2015 to help evacuate children and families affected by aggressions in the east of Ukraine. Now the group provides psychological and psychosocial support to children to help them overcome the trauma of war.
Support Ukrainian refugees
As the war has shifted, around 10 million Ukrainians of the 18 million who fled the country have returned. But the flow of refugees within and outside the country continues. The United Nations estimates 8.1 million Ukrainians — about 20 percent of the population — are still living outside their embattled country.
The International Rescue Committee, which works with refugees throughout the world, has been distributing cash to Ukrainians who have fled to Poland, and helping to equip refugees with essentials and care within the country itself. HIAS — the same organization that helps refugees in Philadelphia — is working to help particularly vulnerable populations, including women, children and LGBTQ Ukrainians in and outside the country.
Support Ukrainian organizations in Philadelphia
There are several Ukrainian community organizations here in Philadelphia that celebrate Ukrainian culture and customs. Many are hosting events and donation drives to support war relief efforts. The Ukrainian American Citizens Association, also known as UACA or the Ukie Club on Franklin, has been aiding Ukrainian causes and assisting refugees for 110 years.
The Ukrainian League of Philadelphia, founded in 1927, has a Facebook page where you can see their upcoming events. The Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Jenkintown has posted donation items needed and drop-off times, a vetted donation resource, and upcoming rallies and fundraisers on its website. The United Ukrainian Relief Committee is collecting donations both monetary and material, with the list of needed supplies is posted on their home page.
Support local Ukrainian fundraisers
East Passyunk chef Joncarl Lachman will host a special fundraiser dinner on March 28 for World Central Kitchen at his new Dankbar, along with Baba’s Bucha Olga Sorzano and Michael Strauss of Mike’s BBQ — all of whom spent time with the D.C.-based food rescue organization on the Poland-Ukraine border last year.
Local Dissent Pins worked with Ukrainian artists and designers to create their “Stand With Ukraine” collection of beautifully-crafted metal pins and jewelry, with proceeds going to a variety of on-the-ground organizations.
Philly’s Triple Bottom Brewery partnered with the Ukrainian League last year on a summer lager, Volya, to benefit Ukraine’s fight for freedom. The striking design of that beer label is now on a t-shirt, with all the proceeds going directly to the Ukrainian government.
A local artist has created a shop on Redbubble, weareukraine91, with low-cost t-shirts and stickers to support the war effort.
Support Ukrainians on the ground
Ukrainian citizens have abandoned their homes and businesses in the face of an invasion and joined the fight to defend their country. Aid Legion, established by a coalition of Ukrainian business people, is working for Ukrainians on the ground with the resources of a large operation and the connections and speed of a small local aid organization. They are currently taking donations to reconstruct the lyceum in Gostomel, and body armor and helmets for army volunteers. You can watch a video about their operation here.
Vote to uphold democracy at home
As Applebaum noted, the attack on Ukraine is an attack on democracy. We are experiencing our own internal attacks on democracy, from the lies about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, to the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol, to the voter restriction laws enacted around the country — and proposed here in Pennsylvania. Make a point to cast your ballot for Mayor, City Council and other positions this May and November. If for no other reason, vote to make the point that democracy matters.
Looking for more ways to help Ukraine?
Razom for Ukraine, a group of Ukrainian-Americans working with Ukrainians on the ground, has carefully vetted this list of ways to contribute to the fight and support those who are suffering as a result of it.
Photo by Rasande Tyskar via Flickr