Ukrainian MP crowdfunds artillery piece to help defend nation

Oleksii Goncharenko on confirmation Russia is committing genocide

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A campaign to buy weapons for Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline has raised an astonishing 10 million hryvnyas (£235,000) in just two weeks. The crowdfunder – thought to be the first to buy artillery for war – was organised by Oleksi Goncharenko, a Ukrainian Member of Parliament for the Black Sea port city of Odesa.

The artillery piece funded by the Ukrainian public has already been handed over to the military where it will be used in battle.

The piece, named “Gvozdika”, met all standards for use in the Ukrainian Armed Forces and will serve with the Ivan Bohun 1st Brigade.

It comes as the Ukrainians continue to make advances against Russia after the liberating the city of Kherson.

The Goncharenko centres, founded by the MP and involved in the fundraising bid, are a Ukrainian network of learning centres providing aid to those affected by Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion.

The network was founded in February 2021 by Mr Goncharenko with the aim of providing free education. This includes English language courses for children and adults, preparing teenagers for final exams, bolstering financial literacy skills and teaching the elderly about modern technology.

The campaign was organised in response to the military’s international calls for aid and fulfilled a specific order request by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

It marks the first time that volunteers in Ukraine have been able to buy a self-propelled artillery piece for use on the frontline.

Mr Gonchrenko said: “We have always said that nothing is impossible for Ukrainians.

“Older people, children, doctors and teachers, visitors to Goncharenko centers and anonymous citizens donated.

“Children brought money. Mykola, who is only five years old, brought his piggy bank to our centre in Podilsk and donated money for the self-propelled artillery, and six-year-old Sofiyka from Teofipol created a roadblock with her friends to collect money and help buy Gvozdika.

“Our people are simply incredible and united in their desire to win!”

The purchased Howitzer is a refurbished Soviet 2S1 Gvozdika.

It has become as ubiquitous around the world as the T-54/55, but it is not a battle tank, though the public at large sees the same: tracks, turret and a big gun.

The Gvozidka was the most widely produced self-propelled gun of the cold war, eclipsing all others, including NATO. It has seen plenty of action – being used by 41 countries and operators – since its introduction in the 1970s. 

In response to the incredible work of the Ukrainian public, a member of the Ivan Bohun 1st Brigade said: “Now we will definitely meet the enemy with flowers, only with very special, fiery flowers.”

The news broke on a day when a Russian missile hit a hospital in Ukraine.

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