This Saturday was the Day of Armed Forces in Ukraine. Many Ukrainians sent good-will wishes from across the country to troops stationed in the Eastern war zones. Some posted messages on social media sites, others did so in texts, and some sent their greetings by video.
This is a country under siege, but Ukrainians love their land. Events of the day were especially poignant given the de facto war with Russia, and the resulting sad loss of so many Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. It is easy to think of all those fierce Russian tanks roaming around Ukraine, especially with so many of them here, while the local Ukrainian troops are mostly stuck with glued together old stuff from the Soviet era.
One could see the gratitude of the soldiers as President and Mrs. Poroshenko traveled to a base outside Kharkiv to meet with troops. For readers not familiar with the First couple, she travels with him often, and their bond with the forces is clear.
Several observers remarked that they had never before enjoyed being in the midst of heavy exhaust fumes. New equipment was presented to the divisions assembled, and when the new tank engines first fired up, the landscape momentarily turned into a gray exhaust fog.
A major reason for the significance of the visit was the delivery of new tanks, helicopters, and personal gear for winter. Ukraine’s weapons factories are upgrading the capabilities of the weapons produced, sometimes in consultation with Western countries such as Canada and Italy.
A remaining deficit lies in the ineffectiveness of the Ukrainian Air defenses. After the Ukrainian advances and victories of the past summer, Russia “loaned” or “donated” more modern air defense systems to the Russian ethnic rebels, giving a clear advantage to the Russian side. Experts say that Ukraine must make improvements to mitigate the disparity as it is difficult for any force to stay even in a conflict with only limited air support.
Mrs. Poroshenko and a group of auxiliary officers delivered to each soldier messages with art from Ukrainian school children, then handed out new winter clothing packages and insulated sleeping bags.
The new equipment and supplies were needed, and fitting for the special day to honour Ukraine’s military.
May God grant them safety.