LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – Ukrainian resistance fighters are not just battling Russian troops, they are also facing major supply issues.
6 News spoke to a team of Ukrainian Americans and Michigan veterans working to get basic supplies, from bandages to helmets, to soldiers overseas.
“They don’t have the simple means to protect themselves,” said Sergey Zelenskiy, a Ukrainian-American leading the equipment fundraiser.
Zelenskiy came to the United States in the 1990s but his mother is still in Ukraine. As the war continues, he keeps close contact with friends in the resistance and heard about what little equipment they have. Zelenskiy turned to an old friend, retired Major General Gregory Vadnais of the Michigan National Guard for help.
The mission became personal for Vadnais after watching a region he knows well turn into ash.
“These families are torn apart, these civilians are attacked,” Vadnais said. “These non–military targets attacked by the Russians. It just puts a lump in your throat and it does mine.”
Vadnais told 6 News he spent eight years leading American and Latvian troops through training and deployments in Afghanistan. He reached out to other veterans and Richard McLellan, with the Lansing-based Oxford Foundation, to help organize a fundraiser.
They hope to raise $1.5 million in donations with 100% of the funds going towards medical supplies and protective gear. He explained while international aid has been bolstering Ukraine’s military, civilian soldiers are falling to the wayside.
“What’s not getting met, at least at this point, in time is getting that survivability equipment,” Vadnais said.
Zelenskiy told 6 News he’s thankful for the support. So far, they have been able to send 40 full-gear kits to Ukrainian fighters in need.
He said it’s proving right what he heard about Americans.
“We heard the story that Americans never leave anybody behind and always take care of each other and everything,” Zelenskiy said.
Vadnais said support has come from small checks to even one Wisconsin company sending 1,000 medical kits into the war zone.