- A Ukrainian soldier spoke to Insider about his meetings with US lawmakers this week.
- The soldier, who will be deployed to the front lines next month, said many do not know how aid money is spent.
- His message: “We do not want to be colonialists… We want to live in a democracy.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Vitaly Boyko was working in real estate when the bombs started falling. From the business of buying and selling real estate, he turned to defending it, and served in the Ukrainian armed forces in the middle of the Battle of Kiev, when everyone believed that Russian victory was just a matter of time.
“When the war started, my family left for Great Britain,” he told Insider. “I went to the recruiting station.”
Boyko’s current brigade serves in the Ukrainian National Guard, spanning from infantry on the Eastern Front to anti-aircraft units that continue to guard the capital from aircraft. Russian missiles And Iranian drones. This week, however, he is engaged in a different kind of war — politics — even if he is, technically, supposed to be on leave and resting for another deployment.
“I’m on leave now because I’m going to the front lines with the brigade in two weeks,” he told Insider as the sun set on the Washington Monument, where about 150 activists attending a pro-Ukraine advocacy summit in Washington had earlier set out. What organizers claimed was the largest blue and yellow flag in the world. But he’s actually working, meeting with members of Congress to share his perspective on the war and why he believes his country’s defense is still worth supporting.
It’s an intervention that comes as House Republicans — who will control next year’s legislative agenda — are divided over whether Ukraine’s fight is America’s fight, too. Boyko said the meetings have been helpful so far.
“It was very useful and interesting because no one knows that financial aid to Ukraine does not go directly to Ukraine,” he said. He added: “They think they gave a lot of money directly to Ukraine and they can’t figure out where [it] It is now. But it does not go directly to Ukraine. He is still in the United States. “It’s just old equipment that goes directly to Ukraine, and that’s not enough when we have a huge front line, more than 10,000 square kilometres.”
The United States provided funds to Ukraine: More than $26 billion To support public spending in the country. But a “significant portion” of the total $113 billion in aid allocated to Ukraine “was actually spent in the United States or on American personnel,” according to the report. Center for Strategic and International Studies, a research center in Washington. The majority of the weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine were from existing stockpiles, which Congress allocated $26 billion to replace, a number the Biden administration hopes to increase with its latest proposal to… $61.4 billion in new aid.
Boyko said that although some in the United States may be on the fence about providing more aid, he wants Americans to know that people like him are determined to keep fighting.
“Every soldier in the trenches knows he is fighting for his family, for his children, for freedom. We don’t want to be colonizers…we don’t want to be rich slaves. We want to live in a democracy.” He said. “If you do not want to participate, so as not to lose your life on the front line, please provide us with equipment, and we will protect you.”
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