Saturday, April 1

A Ukrainian NGO raises 300,000 euros by writing dedications on bombs against the Russian Army

“Happy Father’s Day, William Holstein”; “Congratulations on baby Luke”; “Ashley, do you want to go out with me?”; “congratulations on your doctorate”; “Giovanna and Nathan send their love.” Normal messages of affection if they were not written on Ukrainian bombs and projectiles directed against Russian soldiers and for which the sender has paid more than 100 euros. Many others, the majority, are not messages of love, but of hate.

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Anton Sokolenko, a 21-year-old Ukrainian Information Technology student, says he noticed that donations to the army were not coming at the desired rate, he launched the project ‘Sign my Rocket’ –within the NGO Center for Assistance to the Army, Veterans and their Families–, which in less than four months has raised the equivalent of more than 300,000 euros for the army by selling bombs with personalized dedications.

“There is no official communication with the army nor do we have contact with the government. We speak directly with the soldiers. We have many contacts between soldiers because the NGO has been working with them since 2014,” Sokolenko told through a voice message. He lives in Cherkasy with his parents and says that he can’t take the computer because he has no electricity. He can’t talk much either because the phone is running out of battery.

“The military has a direct interest in getting more dedications because in return they receive cars, equipment and anything else they need to fight. You can say that for them it is like a second job”, he adds.

Sokolenko offers messages on various ammunition and guarantees that the donor will receive a photo with the dedicated artifact. Putting a message in a 155mm howitzer shell with a range of about 22.5 kilometers costs 150 euros. Doing it on a 203mm shell that can travel 55 kilometers costs €350 and doing it on an M982 Excalibur, which is guided by GPS, costs €700. Its high accuracy “means your signed shell will deliver your regards to an orc.” [insulto a los soldados rusos] or to your vehicle”, states the website.

If the donor wants a video of how the projectile is fired, it is 1,000 euros, and if the video is from a drone, 2,000. But in addition, the NGO also offers to sign the side of the M777 howitzer from which the projectiles are fired for 5,000 euros or even the SU-24 supersonic fighter plane for 30,000. “The plane will fight with your message written on the side,” he says.

“The most cool it is dropping the bomb from a drone because we tell people that it will hit a Russian soldier and we record it. The price is a bit expensive, but we discuss it with the soldiers and they do it as many times as necessary until it looks good on the video, so I think it’s worth it”, says the young man with a normal tone. ‘Sign my Rocket’ claims to have received some 60 requests for Father’s Day, 50 birthday wishes and even a Ukrainian proposing to his girlfriend. “Later he confirmed to me that he said yes,” says the young man with a laugh.

“This project is the best way to get donations. In this case they can donate and get something in return, like a cool photo with the text they want and satisfy the hate they feel for Russians. It’s a three-for-one,” she says. Last month, someone from Switzerland ordered five shells and wrote: “One bomb for every month of Russian failure. With love, from Switzerland.” “For the orcs,” says another. Messages that include insults to Putin and Russian troops are also very common.

Sokolov says he has received requests in Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, Polish, German, French, Italian, Spanish and English, among others. “There have also been people from Russia who have asked us how to donate without getting caught and we have received donations from Belarus,” he says. With the money raised so far, 29 cars, 15 drones and more than 60 communication and thermal vision equipment have been purchased for soldiers.

thousands of dead

The war in Ukraine has caused thousands of deaths, although there are few official figures that can include all the victims, and, in particular in the case of military casualties, there is a lack of transparency on both sides.

According to the UN, at least 5,663 civilians have been killed (according to the weekly update of August 29, the last available), although “the real data is considerably higher”, according to the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The last figure of dead soldiers provided by the Russian authorities was in March, when the offensive was completed for a month. Vladimir Putin’s army then announced that there were 1,351 dead soldiers. The US estimated, however, that there were more than 5,000. This month, Washington has stated that, according to its estimates, there are between 70,000 and 80,000 Russian soldiers killed or wounded. The Ukrainian authorities have confirmed the death of 9,000 of their soldiers since the beginning of the invasion.

Some of the Russian soldiers have claimed that they are taking part in the war against their will and have accused their superiors of detaining them in eastern Ukraine for refusing to take part in the conflict.

Pavel Filatyev, a Russian soldier, has fled the country after publishing his memoirs of the invasion. “I see no justice in this war. I see no truth here. I’m not afraid to fight on the front lines, but I need to feel like it’s a war for a just cause and understand that I’m doing the right thing. Justice is conspicuous by his absence, not only because the Russian government has stolen everything, but because we Russians do not feel that what we are doing is right, “he said in an interview published in