War notes
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War notes

Ukrainian civil society in war

Although RF’s war against Ukraine has been going on since 2014, the consequence of the large-scale military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 was the total destruction of many cities and mass murder of civilians, irrationally cruel and unjustified even from a purely military point of view.

The life of every citizen of Ukraine, without exception, has changed dramatically. The same happened with the activities of companies, institutions and public organizations (NGOs). It is obvious that the activity of the NGO “National Ecological Center of Ukraine” (NECU) is no exception.

Personal experience of NECU members in war

After February 24, 2022, the NECU team members were forced to put off their usual affairs and deal with issues of immediate survival: personal, family and friends, defense of the country.

Quite shortly some of our stories look as follow:

  • the Chairman of the NECU Ruslan Gavrilyuk gained experience of a 10-day stay in the occupation near the village of Makariv;
  • Eugene Bovsunovsky lived with his family for several weeks in his own house in Irpin under continuous artillery fire; eventually, after being evacuated to Kyiv, a shell hit his house, destroying part of it;
  • Yulia Khrystynchenko lived for several weeks without electricity and gas in the village of Kalyta, a few kilometers from the location of enemy troops;
  • Inokentiy Horobtsov’s father was mobilized into the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
  • On February 24, Olegh Bondarenko and his son Glib joined the Territorial Defense Forces of Kyiv;
  • Dmytro Hulevets joined the Territorial Defense Forces of Cherkasy Region.

Such stories have already become commonplace for Ukrainians and have happened to our other colleagues from the NECU — in the Ukrainian cities of Mykolayiv, Sumy, Lviv and other. As a result of continuous enemy rocket fire, there is no safe place left in Ukraine today.

Destroyed private home of Eugene Bovsunovsky’s family (1st photo). Surprisingly, but the wooden vertical beam of the house withstood the direct impact of the projectile (the second photo shows a clear imprint of the bow of the projectile — the so-called detonator)
Actually this detonator is shown in the 3rd photo. Eugene restores the destroyed wall (4th photo).
Interview with Glib Bondarenko (Oleg’s son) to NYT in line for weapons, Kyiv, February 26, 2022
Olegh Bondarenko at the checkpoint, April 2022, Kyiv region

Team approaches in response to the challenges of war

Despite RF’s military aggression the team considers it appropriate to continue working on projects that have already started before the invasion, realizing that this work is aimed at building our common European future.

In response to the challenges posed by the war, we are asking our partners to review the priorities of tasks of Ukrainian partners in these projects. Reassigning individual project budget items or updating the NECU work plan in the project can be a solution. So that, on the one hand, it reflects the real pressing problems of Ukraine’s survival and, on the other hand, remains in the paradigm of set of principles, criteria and specific tasks put at the basement of the project.

Thus, in the framework of one of our projects, with the support of the International Foundation “Vidrodzhennya” (Renaissance), we managed to obtain approval from a donor to use a significant part of the project funds for direct volunteer assistance to the affected civilian population.

Another example is an EC-funded project SPARCS where NECU is a partner. The SPARCS project supports European cities in transforming themselves into sustainable energy-positive, zero-carbon communities by creating citizen-oriented ecosystems equipped to deliver meaningful change.

After the start of a large-scale Russian invasion, our team came up with a proposal to the project leaders to update the work plan based on the changed priorities, but leaving unchanged the ideas, principles and goals that were laid in the foundation of the project.

In short, the idea of ​​this update of the work plan is to develop a feasibility study for the Positive Energy District (PED) for Irpin within the NECU budget in the project with the involvement of experts from project partners.

As a key object for the development of the PED feasibility study, we proposed to choose Lyceum №3 in Irpin. This lyceum was the most destroyed among educational institutions in the city. It is important, as it turned out, that the German partners from the city of Borna (a sister city of Irpin) expressed an intention to restore Lyceum №3. At the same time, the city Borna belongs to the district of Leipzig, which is one of the leaders in our project (so called lighthouse city). Therefore, our project partners may have a reason and interest to join this work.

Victory strategy

We, Ukrainians, believe in our victory. Each of us is individually in her/his place and all of us together are doing everything to approach this victory despite the waves of fatigue, and sometimes despair that comes from time to time.

So, we have expanded our activities to provide volunteer assistance to our civilians and our Armed Forces, the Territorial Defense Forces.

We are grateful to our direct international project partners for their moral and material support.

We are grateful to international partners and friends of our country for their strong political support and crucial humanitarian and military assistance.

We are convinced that our resistance is a fierce struggle for existence, freedom and democracy. This is a struggle for the civilized choice not only of our country, but it is a kind of bifurcation point for the whole free world. The world will never be the same again after this war, no matter how this struggle ends. And that is why it depends on each of us which branch of bifurcation will be the further history of mankind, without the possibility of rolling back. History does not know conditional cases.

That is why we must act in a globally consolidated way here and now, without delay. The idea that this is somewhere far away and will not affect me is wrong and the cost of this mistake is unacceptably high.

That is why now more than ever, the trust and unity of our international partners and friends are important in the understanding that Ukraine upholds the values of the whole free world, and therefore the common future on this planet.

Slava Ukraini!

Ukrainian translation

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Olegh Bondarenko

Olegh Bondarenko

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Researcher, DSc, expert in Radiation Protection, Ecology, Air Quality Monitoring, Project Management, Data Science and other — orcid.org/0000-0001-8214-4654