“If You Think Putin Sucks, Give Ukraine a Couple Bucks”

Nadin Brzezinski
5 min readFeb 26, 2024

We came to the Ukraine Rally in Balboa Park for the second anniversary. Talking to organizers and later from the state, we learned these support rallies are held every week. They started two weeks before this phase of the war, on February 24, 2022. The war began when the Little Green Men moved to the Donbas and Crimea in 2014.

Now, let me front-load this. If you want to help Ukrainians through a local charity, there are two: Shield of Freedom and the House of Ukraine.

If you want to help but don’t have the spare cash, five bucks helps, and two dollars helps, too; you can volunteer to pack the boxes they physically take to Ukraine every so often through Poland. A full disclosure is in order. Like every other month, I will donate to a Ukrainian unit or charity at the end of the month. We do, because we know what is at stake, By the way the usual media practice is to have these how can you help at the end. We are front-loading it because I know people who want to help are always searching for where,

Incidentally, just talking about Ukraine on Social Media helps. I will only ask people to get involved in information warfare with Russia if you are that committed. If you do, I will write a primer on how to do it because, with two fronts of the same global conflict, boy, we are busy with disinformation.

So, to the body of the story, let me now reach for my reporter hat because we attended this as press. I was able to talk to one of the organizers. And my new recorder failed, so I’m going from memory.

The first thing is that they usually have 30–40 people attending. This week, it’s the anniversary of the war; they had, by our count, probably over a hundred people. For San Diego, that is an excellent turnout. In this town, with a few exceptions, turnout tends to be genuinely anemic.

Before the rally started, I talked with Iuliia Puchko, who is originally from Kharhiv. Many of her family still live there and do not intend to move west, even though the city is on the front lines. Why? It is their way to resist.

A lot of her friends are currently serving in the army. Why is she the one to cross the border when they take supplies? Why? Because if you are a male of military age, it can get complicated. That’s why she goes as often as they collect supplies to take to Ukraine and make the flight worth it. She goes to Kharkiv, and seeing her hometown destroyed is heart-wrenching. No, not all the town is destroyed, but every time it gets worse because Russia continues to bomb civilians.

What is the collecting? Simple things like Tourniquets. Realize a good quality tourniquet runs about 22 dollars. Some bad ones out there will break under the pressure to save a life. But a good quality one will preserve a soldier’s life. This is a luxury for civilians in Ukraine as well. They are also buying Individual First Aid Kits, which can help save lives on the front lines.

Ukrainians want you to call Congress to get that supplemental passed. The reality is that they are losing some ground because ammo is short. The fact is that if they stop fighting, there will be no more Ukraine. Russia has been transparent about this.

Don Young, an American who has been at these rallies every week since they started, made a similar point. He also explained to the crowd that Russia will not stop with Ukraine. They will next go to Poland. This is a NATO member. And would trigger article five. He also explained, just like Puchko did, that most of the money in the supplemental will stay in the United States.

We are taking to the tune of 90 percent that stays in the US and creates good quality jobs.

It is spinning up our economy and war production capabilities. This is a good thing. Especially since a lot of Europe believes (and I agree) we are heading to war with Russia.

The last person to talk at the rally. The first time this happened was a Russian refugee, Konstantine Dubovenko, who came from St Petersburg. He likely left before the silent mobilization started; I did not ask, just an educated guess. He pointed out that after 2014, he began protesting. He was angry. He would go to the police station and face a three-day detention. Well, it’s not that way anymore. As I have been writing, the penalty for discrediting the army is the actual charge, which is 10–15 years in prison. Many of these people are forced to join through penal battalions.

Why would it take two years to let a Russian speak? Even if one is an ally? There is little love lost, especially when Russians are kidnapping Ukrainian children. We are talking of over 700,000 children who have been deported to Russia, with just 700 or so who have come back home.

This removal of children is at the heart of the charges of genocide at the International Court against Vladimir Putin for genocide.

I struck up a conversation with one of the Ukrainian attendees. We were talking about the parallels between the Holocaust and the present situation. She told me a story of a Jewish boy, a fourteen-year-old, whose parents were killed at Baby-Yar, but at great personal risk, the Kyiv neighborhood he lived at hid the kid from the Germans. The boy survived the war; what the Russians want to do now is precisely the same. The intent is genocide.

I just remembered that this is not the first time. The Holodomor was precisely that as well. It was an attempt by Russia to destroy Ukraine. Russia is a nation that always looks back at past glories and wants to recreate the USSR, the most significant expansion of the Russian Empire. We in the United States do not understand this at our peril.

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Nadin Brzezinski

Historian by training. Former day to day reporter. Sometimes a geek who enjoys a good miniatures game. You can find me at CounterSocial, Mastodon and rarely FB