Ukrainian journalist group works to inform world media, get military equipment to resist Russians

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Ukrainians are so ready to fight back against the invading Russian army, some of them are being turned away because there aren’t enough weapons for all of them.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t help in other ways in the fight for their nation.

One of them is Mark Savchuk, Kyiv-based coordinator of the Ukraine Volunteer Journalists Initiative, which was created by public relations and media experts as a way to better communicate with Western journalists and give a sense of what’s happening on the ground.

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A career communications professional, the 32-year-old Mariupol native wanted to fight but was told there was no room. According to Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, more than 140,000 Ukrainians, mostly men, have returned from Europe.

Mark Savchuk, Kyiv-based coordinator of the Ukraine Volunteer Journalists Initiative (UVJI).

Mark Savchuk, Kyiv-based coordinator of the Ukraine Volunteer Journalists Initiative (UVJI).
(Mark Savchuk)

“It’s really bad that Ukraine can’t put all the people who want to fight to the front lines,” Savchuk told Fox News Digital from the Ukraine capital on Thursday, with fighting happening mere miles away. “It means we are not realizing our full potential … Currently, we have much more men willing to fight than we can put on the front line.”

Now half the country is doing volunteer group to supply Ukrainian forces, and there’s a push to buy bulletproof vests, helmets, personal medical kits, and other critical items for the civilian fighters as they aid the established military. His main task these days, he says, is to purchase as much of that equipment for Ukrainians as he can. 

In a sign of how the war has flipped Ukrainian life upside down, before the invasion, Savchuk was doing public relations on policy matters. Today, he’s speaking with international news outlets about Ukraine’s need for more anti-aircraft missiles to shoot down Russian planes.

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The UVJI is also trying to convey the “voice of the Ukrainian people” to the west, Savchuk said. Among the information the group has disseminated to the world has been that Russian forces aren’t allowing supplies to get through to captured Ukrainian towns, according to The Hill.

People walk along a road by a forest, as they flee Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in the Vyshgorod region near Kyiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022.

People walk along a road by a forest, as they flee Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the Vyshgorod region near Kyiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022.
(REUTERS/Serhii Nuzhnenko)

It’s been more than two weeks since the bloody invasion began, and the United Nations has reported more than 1,500 civilian casualties. More than 1.5 million Ukrainians have fled their home country in the greatest humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. Half of Kyiv has left, and those who remain are either fighting or doing administrative work to help.

Much of the civilized world has rallied to Ukraine’s cause, with Russia isolating itself further by the day. Its bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol this week further stoked global outrage.

Savchuk doesn’t anticipate Western powers growing tired of the conflict and looking away, simply because of the momentousness of the war. Confident of Ukrainian victory, he said the people of the country just need outside help, and they can fight off the Russians. 

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“We are willing to fight,” he said. “Because we are willing to fight, we just need help. We will do this on our own. We don’t need NATO to go to war with Russia. We will be able to deal with this ourselves. All we just need is help. Financial help and military assistance. We will do this on our own.”

A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. A Russian attack has severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials say.

A woman walks outside the damaged by shelling maternity hospital in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. A Russian attack has severely damaged a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian officials say.
(AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Savchuk said the No. 1 misconception people have about the war so far is that the Russian army is “unstoppable and scary.”

“Bulls–t,” he said. “They are suffering lots and lots of casualties.”

He added Western media coverage of the war, in his view, had been generally accurate, but warned that the invasion shouldn’t be portrayed as “just another conflict.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has to be stopped now, he told Fox News Digital, with no negotiations or deals.

“This fight is too big to just let it go,” he said. “Putin will not let go … This for him is the last hurrah.”

For some Ukrainians, including its President Volodomyr Zelenskyy, that’s included calls for the U.S. and other NATO powers to enforce a “no-fly zone,” which they’ve resisted out of fear of entering a hot war with the Russians themselves.

As the conflict drags into its third week, Savchuk said Ukraine’s morale is good.

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“The morale is high because we know what we are fighting for,” he said. “We know who we are fighting against. Putin is just simply crazy … Whatever he says is complete total f—ing bulls–t.”

Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.

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