“Girls, yesterday I spoke with a woman from a remote village in Belgorod Oblast. She told me about our miserable, shoeless, starving soldiers,” says Zhanna Ovchinnikova, administrator of the Telegram group “Help to the Murmansk army.
The relief initiative launched in early May quickly gained more than a thousand followers. The initiative is one of many such efforts across Russia. It is almost exclusively run by women, many of whom have relatives involved in the war.
Among the Russian troops who have committed serious war crimes, looted and inflicted unprecedented damage on local societies in Ukraine are many soldiers from the far north of the Kola Peninsula.
And their conditions on the battlefield are far from easy, say representatives of local relief efforts.
According to Zhanna Ovchinnikova and her colleagues, warriors need a wide range of basic goods. The lists of necessary priority articles are now regularly updated and published on the channel.
One of the latest lists includes foodstuffs such as noodles, cookies, sugar, coffee, tea, as well as vegetables and fruits. Also on the list are socks, briefs, t-shirts, camo jackets, uniforms and sports shoes.
“We received a request from our men! They need about 30 uniforms of all kinds, size 50/4 and 52/4 summer design, and they need sneakers!” writes one of the women contributing to the initiative.
Since the start of the relief initiative, millions of rubles have been collected and tons of equipment assembled and delivered to occupied Ukrainian lands. This includes all kinds of foodstuffs.
“I have two boxes of cucumbers and cabbage, is there anyone who can bring them from Alakurtti to the assembly point in Murmansk,” asks a member of the group.
Among the main items collected is toilet paper. And of course, cigarettes. “A pack of cigarettes can save a life,” says a member of the group.
But there are also other types of goods collected. Also on the lists of needs are military equipment and technology for combat action. This includes silencers for several types of weapons, including ASVKM, SVDS sniper rifles and AK-74 machine guns, night vision instruments, thermal vision cameras, rangefinders and more.
According to the organizers, several types of equipment have been assembled. In May, two sets of thermal vision cameras were acquired with the funds raised, and a few days later the cameras were reportedly received by warriors.
Regional companies contribute to the efforts. The Kola NPP nuclear power plant donated a thermal vision camera and a rangefinder, the group informs. Another local company donated four quadcopter drones.
However, many fear that the goods collected will not reach their intended recipients. Several members of the group complain that their husbands and sons have received no help.
Zhanna Ovchinnikova and the administration of the group emphasize that the funds and property collected are used in accordance with the purpose. They accuse critics of collaborating with the Ukrainians.
“Provocateurs will be removed from the group,” they wrote. “Does anyone encourage group admins to reveal names and locations [of the recipients]? Did someone from ENEMY infiltrate us? ? ” they add.
A large number of troops from the Murmansk region take part in the war. The losses were dramatic. Already in the first days of the assault, several hundred men were reported to have lost their lives as Pechenga’s 200th Motorized Rifle Brigade faced Ukrainian troops outside Kharkiv.
There are also significant numbers of combat troops from several other units in the area, including the 61st Navel Infantry Brigade at Sputnik and the 80th Arctic Motor Rifle Brigade at Alakurtti.