An Associated Press story from this morning about the underequipped state of the Ukranian military casually mentions the staggering fact that the country’s government is asking regular citizens to help finance defense operations via 50-cent text message donations, i.e. the method often used to raise funds for disaster relief and such at charity concerts and telethons:
Ukraine’s military is facing its worst crisis ever with a navy that has lost two-thirds of its vessels, an army desperate for basic equipment and a defense ministry that has taken to hustling 50-cent donations that people can make with mobile phone text messages. It has raised over $1 million so far that way — enough to buy one interceptor missile on a U.S. Navy warship — but military officials are thrilled.
“We’ll use the money to buy the things we lack, like bulletproof helmets and medical supplies,” said Bogdan Buta, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister.
Meanwhile, Russia is looking to seal an enormous deal to sell natural gas to China in what the New York Times describes as another significant step away from its alliances with Europe and the West.