Like many others around the world, I’ve been incredibly moved and inspired by the courage of Ukrainians as they face the cruel and relentless devastation inflicted by Russia. The stakes couldn’t be higher: war in Ukraine is a test for democracy globally and its citizens are paying the price for all of us. Those of us lucky enough to live in democracies must help in any and every way we can.
Fortunately, many countries and people have stepped up. I’m especially proud (and relieved) that even in polarized America our government and a broad swath of citizens agree that supporting Ukraine is the right thing to do. I hope this consensus doesn’t change with the new Congress in January.
Despite Ukraine’s success on the battlefield, however, the war isn’t over yet. Russia’s targeting of civilian infrastructure means that millions of Ukrainians are regularly without electricity, water, heat, communications, and other vital services this winter. They still need our help.
Fortunately there are many ways to support Ukraine and Ukrainians. Below are just a few ideas, based my experiences this year. I’ll post more in the future as they arise.
Note: marrying a Ukrainian is not included in this list.
Contact Your Elected Officials
In the USA, you can easily contact the White House and your Senators and Representatives at the links below. I keep my messages to them short, courteous, and to the point. I also write at least every other month. It’s said that phone calls are more effective than emails but I just use the email form on the elected official’s website:
I focus on contacting elected officials at the federal level since I’m mostly asking them to send ammo. But many state and local governments have resources to help the Ukrainian diaspora and refugees and may be worth a call if you have the time. You can find out who represents you at sites like this one.
Support Ukrainian Charities
There are many organizations collecting funds for Ukraine, each with a particular focus of support. Two well-known groups to get started with are:
- United24 – the primary Ukrainian-based organization for collecting donations. Of note: historian Timothy Snyder’s fundraiser for a Shahed Hunter anti-drone system.
- Razom for Ukraine – a New York-based organization that coordinates donations, political advocacy, and more.
Show Your Support for Ukraine
Show Up: events supporting Ukraine are happening everywhere all the time. Whether it’s a rally, fundraiser, film screening, performance, bake sale – whatever it is, swing by. Better yet, help organize one! You can also patronize Ukrainian businesses, for a tasty experience.
Wear It: I’m generally not the flag-waving/wearing type, but I have to admit that symbols matter. Seeing Ukrainian flags flown all across the USA this year while on my roadtrips was an interesting (if admittedly imprecise) barometer of support for the cause. Alex and I wear Ukrainian pins on our jackets and I also have a Saint Javelin knit cap. Everyone looks good in blue and yellow.
Bonus: Learn Ukrainian History, Culture, and Language
For me, an unexpected but wonderful outcome of all this was learning much more about the history of Eastern Europe, mostly through the work of Timothy Snyder and others. My baby steps in learning a bit of Ukrainian has also been quite fun. A few ways to get started:
- The Making of Modern Ukraine – Timothy Snyder’s fascinating Yale course is being posted on YouTube twice a week this semester. For such a big and serious subject, the lectures are surprisingly entertaining thanks to the goofy asides and jokes Snyder can’t help but make throughout each class. The syllabus is posted at his Substack (also great) in case you want to do the reading too.
- hromadske – this Ukrainian non-profit news organization is putting out incredibly interesting documentary-style videos showing different aspects of the war. The reportage is low-key, human-focused, and absolutely fascinating.
- Duolingo – the go-to language app offers Ukrainian and is donating ad revenues from the course to Ukraine relief. A month into studying the language, I’m quite confused by cases but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.