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Ukraine is facing a shortage of defensive and tactical supplies and is struggling to gather equipment to support its defence, with some charities helping to fill the gap.
Ihor Koval, 58, was born in Ukraine and served in the Soviet army before it was disbanded in 1992. He later moved to America and raised a family, but returned to help supply troops on the lines of front of the 2014 conflict that broke out in the Donetsk region and continued to do so in the following years.
The invasion of Russia on February 24 prompted him to return, but he is now helping organize the collection and transport of supplies to the front lines through his charity, Evil Cannot Enter Heaven. Her family has set up a US extension of the charity, which can accept donations through its website or by texting 56512 or 1-866-447-6645.
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“It’s a very big shortage of military supplies for new recruits,” Koval told Fox News Digital. “We spent all our money, we ordered all the guns and the prices – I didn’t go to the shops, but I heard the prices had skyrocketed.”
The cost of military equipment is exorbitant: Koval found 350 helmets and body armor in Turkey, but they collectively cost $500,000. Even when he receives equipment, he sometimes struggles to move it where it needs to go.
“It’s not so easy to get to the front lines at the moment: you have permits, curfews everywhere,” he added. His family helped him create an American website for his charity to speed up the process and acquire the necessary equipment.
Spokespersons for the Pentagon and EUCOM redirected any questions about a supply shortage to public statements by Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, who highlighted the Pentagon’s ability to compress a schedule of “weeks or of months” to provide assistance for “hours and days”.
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“We don’t go to market or buy new items, so we have to have it on hand to be able to ship it,” Kirby explained as a way to hedge against questions of potential delays, noting that providing assistance is an “ongoing process”.
But current and former Ukrainian officials told Fox News Digital that the supply of defensive or tactical gear remains low, at around 30-40% of what they need.
Volodymyr Omelyan, Ukraine’s former infrastructure minister, explained that offensive weapons remain a priority and that other types of equipment – helmets, vests, night vision goggles – remain in short supply partly due to the need to take non-traditional and multiple routes across the border, leading to bureaucratic blockages.
“It complicates sometimes because … you have to present documents on the origin of these goods or special certificates, and that definitely creates problems on both sides,” said Omelyan, who joined the Territorial Defense Force on the first day. of the invasion. “Customs are aware of the situation and are trying to facilitate as much as possible.”
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“It’s a war, sometimes certain procedures are not very clear or easy to follow, especially if you have different types of goods … and different approaches in such cases,” he added.
A U.S. official also told Fox News that some supplies faced roadblocks at the border, likely bureaucratic issues with special waivers and other requirements.
Kira Rudik, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, said the problem has spread beyond tactical and defensive gear to include items such as first aid kits, walkie-talkies and warm clothes, most of which go currently to the soldiers marching in the streets.
“Defensive equipment is what we lack as a defensive team,” Rudik said, calling the shortage a “frustration”. “Of course, in war there is no excess of anything…but right now defensive gear is what we urgently lack.”
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“Donations are faster because you get the equipment and control it crossing borders, and then you control the logistics in there,” she added. “When they send delivery from the UN or certain countries, you have no control over it, you don’t know what’s going on there.”
Koval’s charity therefore plays an important role in helping to address these shortages: he set up his charity in 2014 to help deliver ambulances to Ukraine to transport fighters during the ‘golden hour’ – the first hour after sustaining a traumatic injury.
“I got at least two phone calls from soldiers who found out I was involved in this movement, and they told me I saved two lives because of it,” Koval said. “So that stuff – military vests, other gear, I just deliver it.”
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Fox News correspondent Nate Foy last week shed light on another charity run by a Ukrainian couple in Chicago with the same goal of addressing the shortage of non-lethal aid in the country.
The shortage will create significant problems over the next few weeks if not resolved immediately.
Fox News correspondents Jennifer Griffin and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.