Kyiv, Ukraine – The Russian invasion in February sparked a wave of popular support for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, as millions of Ukrainians scrambled to help defend their homeland. Four months later – amid Russian advances and rising casualties – anger and frustration over the handling of the war are simmering.
In interviews with Ukrainians who had family members fighting against invaders, many said they resented the military leadership for posting inexperienced people to the front lines, sometimes sending them into battle without a medical or psychological examination.
“I am ready to protest,” said Victoria Bilan Raschuk, 43, from Kyiv, whose husband, Volodymyr, a theater actor with no previous military experience, is fighting on the Eastern Front line in Severodonetsk. Last month, she said, she raised funds to send his unit protective headsets — standard military equipment used to prevent hearing loss for soldiers firing missile systems.
“No one even taught him how to shoot.”
Olena تشاapak Sheremet said
The government is not doing enough to support them. “The longer this goes on, the more people are upset,” said Bilan Rachuk in Ukrainian, speaking through an interpreter.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Since the Russian invasion in February, thousands of Ukrainians with no military background have volunteered to fight. To bolster the war effort, the Ukrainian government also banned men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country in case it needed to start conscription. In May, Zelensky said that the country’s army includes 700,000 soldiers, including women.
Through a relentless campaign of appearances, In interviews and statements, Zelensky struggled to keep morale high among the troops and the general public and to plead the country’s cause to the international community. But Russian artillery attacks have escalated in the east of the country in recent months, bringing the Ukrainian military death toll to between. 100 and 200 soldiers One day of the fighting, one of Zelensky’s aide, Mikhailo Podolak, said in an interview with the BBC earlier this month, with at least 500 more injured each day.
in Daily address On June 14, Zelensky described the losses as “painful,” but said the Ukrainians “must hold on.”
Despite the high death toll, Ukrainian officials assured that the troops are being well taken care of, with adequate training, food, equipment and rest.
But as the war continues, what irritates some Ukrainians in particular is the lack of basic military equipment for those on the front lines. Some army families have been forced to organize donation drives to send medical supplies and military equipment to the front lines.
Svetlana Lukyanenko, whose husband worked in IT before the war but is now fighting near Severodonetsk, fears that the Ukrainian army is not replacing dead and wounded soldiers fast enough, leaving her husband in greater danger with each passing day.
“The government needs to mobilize more people, but it also needs to train them. There is not enough training and it is a big problem,” she said. “That is why we have such a high death toll.”
“We are angry with them,” Lukyanenko added.
Zelensky also denied reports that some front-line forces had poor protective equipment.
“The reports I receive are very different from what the community discusses,” He said in the same address. “Today, everyone in combat zones should have everything they need to protect themselves,” he said. “The state provides such supplies.”
Luisa Dorner, 25, of Kyiv, whose husband is fighting in the Donbass region, said statements by Zelensky and other government officials were starting to sound hollow. She said that when she spoke to her husband on the phone, she could hear the sound of fear and exhaustion.