KYIV, Ukraine — Among the éclairs and macarons at the pastry counter in Honey cafe in Kyiv are small, glazed cakes with candy lettering on top spelling out “ZSU,” the letters that denote the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Part of the proceeds from every cake sold at the cafe goes to the Ukrainian Army. It is just one tiny contribution, which is part of a widespread trend in Ukraine that sees businesses and individuals donating to the army.
Western governments have provided air defense systems and precision and long-range artillery that have helped the Ukrainian military to shift the tide on the battlefield.
At home, Ukrainians fund the military through taxes, with about 50 percent of the budget now allocated for defense. On top of that, individual donations are another source, and one that has swelled over the past year.
A poll last fall by Suspilne Media, Ukraine’s public broadcaster, found that about a quarter of all Ukrainians, or 24 percent, said they had donated money directly to the military during the war.
Over the past year, 22.3 billion hryvnia, or about $500 million, was donated directly to the army by businesses and individuals, according to Ukraine’s central bank. That far outpaced charitable contributions inside Ukraine for humanitarian assistance, which totaled 920 million hryvnia, or $20 million.
Nongovernmental groups that collect donations and buy equipment that is donated to the army, such as armored vests, night vision goggles or infrared scopes, are also a significant source of support.
One of the largest such organizations, Povernys Zhyvym, or Come Back Alive, has collected 5.3 billion hryvnia, or $132 million for the military.
Another, the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, has raised 3.5 billion hryvnia, or $87 million. Fund-raisers like this foundation often raise money for specific purchases, such as a Bayraktar TB2 attack drone for the air force.
Several groups raise money for the military, or for weapons procurement, by selling personalized messages on bombs or artillery shells. Punisher, a company making long-range attack drones, has a website that allows people to put messages on bombs for a fee, which goes toward funding development and production of the weapons.
On the larger end of the scale of donations from individuals, the commanding general in the Ukrainian army, General Valery Zaluzhny, in October donated $1 million to the military from an inheritance he received from a Ukrainian American family, according to the army’s press service.
And on the smaller end, restaurants with electronic menus offer customers the opportunity to donate small sums to the military while paying their bills.
Yurii Shyvala contributed reporting from Lviv, Ukraine.