KYIV, Ukraine — Among the éclairs and macarons at the pastry counter in Honey cafe in Kyiv are small, glazed cakes with candy lettering on top spelling out “ZSU,” The letters denoting the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Every cake sold at the cafe is donated to the Ukrainian Army. It’s a small contribution that is part of a larger trend in Ukraine, where people and businesses give to the army.
The Ukrainian military has been able to turn the tide in the battleground by the help of the West, which provided precision and long-range artillery as well as air defense systems.
Ukrainians finance the military with their taxes. About half of the budget is currently allocated to defense. Individual donations, which have increased in the past year, are an additional source of funding.
A poll last fall by Suspilne Media, Ukraine’s public broadcaster, found that about a quarter of all Ukrainians, or 24 percent, said they had donated money directly to the military during the war.
Over the past year, 22.3 billion hryvnia, or about $500 million, was donated directly to the army by businesses and individuals, according to Ukraine’s central bank. This far exceeded charitable donations to Ukraine for humanitarian aid, which totaled 20 million dollars or 920 million hryvnia.
These groups, which collect donations and purchase equipment donated to the army such as armored vests or night vision goggles, are a major source of support.
Povernys Zhym, also known as Come Back Alive, is one of the largest such groups. It has raised $132 million to support the military with 5.3 billion hryvnia.
Another charity foundation, the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation raised 3.5 Billion Hryvnia or $87 Million. These fund-raisers often raise money to purchase specific items, such as a Bayraktar TB2 assault drone for the air force.
A number of groups have used personalized messages to sell bombs and artillery rounds to raise money for military purchases or for weapon procurement. Punisher, a company producing long-range attack helicopters, offers a website that lets people place messages on bombs. This fee is used to fund the development and production of weapons.
On the larger end of the scale of donations from individuals, the commanding general in the Ukrainian army, General Valery Zaluzhny, in October donated $1 million to the military from an inheritance he received from a Ukrainian American family, according to the army’s press service.
On the lower end, electronic menus at restaurants offer customers the chance to donate small amounts of money to the military and still pay their bills.
Yurii Shyvala contributed reporting in Lviv, Ukraine.