A crowd-funded campaign aimed at raising $15 million to purchase three Turkish-made combat drones for Ukraine’s military reached two-thirds of its goal in a day, with donations still coming in.
Comedian Serhiy Prytula and vlogger Ihor Lachenkov launched the effort on Wednesday on Instagram and Facebook and by Thursday had enough money pledged, $10 million, to purchase two Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles — with six days remaining of its scheduled campaign.
“Two in a day! My friends, you’re doing something incredible. You’re writing history!” Prytula said in a video post on his Telegram account.
Prytula’s charitable fund called this campaign the “biggest in Ukraine.”
The push was helped by a number of Ukrainian influencers and celebrities, notably Ukrainian national soccer team and Manchester City midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko.
The fund encouraged donors to keep the momentum going and offered template posts for social media that activists could use to spread awareness.
A lot of the bigger donations were made by the Ukrainian business community, but the fund noted the overwhelming majority of donations were no more than $10.
The fundraising campaign followed a previous effort, when Lithuanian citizens raised $5 million for an initial drone.
The initiative was started by Lithuanian journalist Andrius Tapinas, who launched the campaign that met its $5 million target in three days. He told Radio Svoboda about his history with fundraising for the Ukrainian war effort.
“We raised money for humanitarian aid, traveled to Dnipro and other towns to safely get refugees into Lithuania. Two weeks the Ministry of Defense of Lithuania asked us to raise 330,000 euros for reconnaissance drones that would be sent to Ukraine,” he told Radio Svoboda.
As a bonus, Turkey Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas announced that his country would be sending the Bayraktar drone to Lithuania without charge. It would then be sent to Ukraine.
“It is UNBELIEVABLE but (Turkish flag emoji) just agreed to give the Bayraktar that (Lithuania flag emoji) gathered money for, FOR FREE. It is amazing! For the gathered money, we will buy the needed ammunition for the Bayraktar and the rest of money will also go for support of (Ukranian flag emoji),” Arvydas Anušauskas tweeted.