We just returned early this morning from the Antiterrorist Operation (ATO) Zone in southeastern Ukraine, where separatists and Russian soldiers have been waging war on Ukraine for the last two years. The violence has surged in recent weeks. Five Ukrainian soldiers were killed during our visit, and more of their comrades were injured.
Spirit of America is working with the US Embassy and its partners from the Ukrainian military to launch a radio station in the war zone. This station, named Army FM, will provide soldiers on the frontlines with a source of information and entertainment, both raising morale and improving communication with their superiors and the rest of Ukraine. It will launch in March.
This project is especially important because the only radio and TV available to the soldiers now is demoralizing propaganda from the separatists and their Russian partners. The Ukrainian troops, living in bitterly cold, austere conditions in the harsh winter, are bombarded with messages telling them to give up and that their country doesn’t care about them.
During our trip, we spoke with soldiers all along the line, understanding exactly how impactful the Army FM radio station can be. From a commander who lost almost 90 percent of his men during the early stages of fighting, to an officer who volunteered to serve in the ATO because his son was sent to the frontlines, to a soldier who has returned the remains of some 600 of his comrades to their families, all stressed how much greater communication with their leadership and the rest of their country would help them endure.
We also visited one of the towers where a transmitter provided by Spirit of America will broadcast Army FM. The transmitter, 15 kilometers from the fighting, will provide coverage across the southern part of the front. While there, Isaac helped one of our Ukrainian partners affix a new Ukrainian flag high up the tower.
The Ukrainian people are America’s friends and partners. This is about helping Ukraine preserve the independence and values we in the West hold so dear. It has been inspiring to work with men and women so dedicated to achieving these goals. Get involved here.
Jim and Isaac