Frequently asked questions: Ukraine
1. HOW CAN I HELP?
Donate money. Non-governmental aid organizations are able to channel it flexibly to where it's most needed at any given moment.
1.1. Put some money straight to the Ukrainian bank account
The National Bank of Ukraine has opened a couple of accounts for donations directly for the use of the Ukrainian government. If you want to support the defence of Ukraine, do it by sending money to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. That way you can be certain it gets to its destination and is spent on things that are most needed. The armed forces need a lot of items that cannot be purchased from the civilian markets. Their supply chains are operational and secure to ensure that the supplies do not end up in the wrong hands. On the same site there is also an account for donations to humanitarian aid, if you would rather channel your money towards helping civilians.
1.2. Donate to an aid organization
There are numerous aid organizations working on the ground in Ukraine, helping civilians and voluntary rescue workers and defenders alike, and have been there since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Check out e.g. the following organisations:
Vostok SOS, which provides support and evacuates citizens from the occupied and already liberated territories. Another organization providing humanitarian aid is Palianytsia, which specializes in medicine.
Hospitallers are a group of paramedics that help wounded soldiers and civilians in the field. Come Back Alive on the other hand provided material support and training for the defenders on the front lines.
Then a couple of words on the big organizations, we recommended before: UN Refugee Council and the Red Cross. Traditionally, these organizations have had the benefit of being recognized and respected in conflict areas. Therefore, they have the opportunity to help in ways that regular volunteers cannot, like helping prisoners of war. The flip side is, that they must remain impartial to ensure those opportunities for helping are granted in the future as well. That means for example, that the Red Cross Society in Russia is helping the families of the mobilized. Historically, some of the aid missions have gone awry and in this war as well, the Red Cross has received criticism for its actions (or lack thereof) from Ukrainians. If you want to support the Ukrainians through the Red Cross, we recommend directing donations straight to the Ukrainian Red Cross Society.
Another thing often said about the big ones is that they use the funds as they please and the funds donated with Ukraine in mind may not be used for the benefit of Ukrainians. For example, the UN Refugee Council may use the funds it collects to help refugees from other conflicts as well. It is smart for the organization to direct funds where the most impact can be achieved at that moment, but if you want your donation to be earmarked, use another channel. The same goes for another commendable aid organization Doctors without borders.
1.3. If you want to send goods to Ukraine
1.3.1. On the Finnish territory, you can ship things to Ukraine via autaukrainaa.fi.
Many items are more valuable than their cost, such as combat first aid equipment and with the coming winter, warm layers and sleeping bags are needed. Should you want to donate your unused equipment or purchase something from us (or any other business), you can do it through that platform.
Order the items to yourself as you would normally do, or pick them up from our store. Follow the instructions on the autaukrainaa.fi website and the help will be delivered through their reliable channels. On the site, there is also a list of needed items, so you can add other useful things in the same package. The items are sorted at the warehouse before shipping.
For this organization, the money is tight as well. Even though the operations are run by volunteers, money is required for arranging deliveries, getting the cars and fuels, and operating a warehouse. If you use the platform to donate goods, consider donating a couple of dimes to the humanitarian aid account of the Ukrainian Association that is running the site.
1.3.2. Outside of Finland - look into your local aid organizations delivering material to Ukraine.
1.4. Don't shit where you eat
Avoid stockpiling, don't feed trolls on the Internet, debunk false information. Check sources before sharing anything. Be prepared but don't panic-buy goods. This helps keep the supply chains running better for everyone. Keep your head cool and your feet warm.
2. WHAT CAN VARUSTELEKA DO?
We are bound by the Finnish Money Collection act. We have looked deep into our options during the spring, summer, and fall. Since we are a business, we cannot collect money or act as a middleman to deliver your purchases to Ukraine.
2.1. Can I send goods to Ukraine via Varusteleka?
In short, no. To send goods, use the autaukrainaa.fi service (in Finland) or any local organization who funnel donated material to Ukraine. (See points 1.3.1. and 1.3.2. above.)
2.2. If I send goods to Ukraine or travel there, can I get a discount or can Varusteleka sponsor me?
If you are buying a shit ton of stuff at once and want to negotiate, call our customer service or send us an e-mail. Usually, we don't offer quantity discounts.
2.3. What can Varusteleka do then?
What we can do is to give a shoutout to the effective aid organizations working on the ground. We donate supplies through our government and support Finnish NGO’s with material help. Our cooperation will be sustained with these actors as the situation and our resources allow.
Slava Ukraini, Heroyam Slava!