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One of Ukraine’s most popular bands visit Cardiff to raise money for medical aid

01 Jun 2024 6 minute read
Antytila

Luke James

When Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine just over two years ago, one of Ukraine’s most popular bands swapped their guitars for guns and medical gloves.

Three members of Antytila spent eight months serving as paramedics with the 130th territorial defence battalion of the Ukrainian army, which has taken part in fighting in the capital Kyiv and Kharkiv.

Their experience on the frontline has been turned into a documentary film which will be shown in Cardiff on Sunday as part of a series of “Culture vs War” events the group are holding to raise morale as well as money for medical supplies.

Speaking to Nation.Cymru ahead of the event at the Tramshed, which is free to attend, Antytila lead vocalist Taras Topolia said: “When the full scale invasion happened and Russians came to Ukraine to destroy our freedom and future, to kill of citizens, our families, there was only one decision for us: for us to swap our instruments for guns and serve as a military volunteer.”

“Especially in that time, in that very hard time, we understood that we can resist only if the whole nation is mobilised. No matter who you were before – musicians or plumbers or teachers – a lot of people took weapons and served in the army to protect our homeland.”

Crimea

The group already had some experience when Russia invaded in February 2022 as they had begun volunteering for the army when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

“We already had experience of how to use blood stopping tourniquets, how to apply bandages, how to use different tools from the first aid kit,” added Topolia. “That’s why our commanders decided we should serve as paramedics in Kyiv and then Kharkiv.”

However nothing could have prepared anyone for what was to come.

The documentary shows Topolia, along with keyboardist Serhii Vusyk and guitarist Dmytro Zholud, helping seriously wounded soldiers, including a musician who the band had worked with before the war.

“In that time I was thinking that I should just be functioning like a robot, like a machine,” said Topolia. “You should just switch off your emotions and act, to do what you have to do, because people’s lives, comrade’s lives, depend on you.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YALSyd3ohuU

Fatigue

Now he has been asked to serve his country by doing the very opposite of that. With fatigue setting in as the war enters its third year, Topolia and his bandmates are trying to “speak from heart to heart” with people about personal stories rather than geopolitics.

“When we were extracted from the frontline by our commander in chief, he gave an order that we should stop acting as paramedics and start to act as creative people,” he said.

“We use this emotional channel to deliver the truth about the Ukrainian war directly to people’s hearts. This event won’t just be a screening of a documentary, we will be speaking a lot and having conversations with people, reminding them of some essential topics, about Ukraine in war.”

The band came to prominence in Britain in March 2022 when, dressed in military uniform and standing in front of a bombed out building in Kyiv, they sent a video message to Ed Sheeran offering to play in a charity concert he was headlining.

The concert’s organisers declined the offer but Antytila have since gone on to play with Sheeran in front of 80,000 people at a concert in Poland and with U2 in Kyiv and London.

Signed flags

In Cardiff tomorrow, the group will play acoustic versions of their best known songs and auction off Ukrainian flags signed by the country’s military chiefs, with money raised going to the purchase of boats needed to evacuate casualties.

The event, which comes as Kharkiv comes under renewed bombardment by Russian forces, will be a reminder not only about the war but the need for peace, the group said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has convened a summit in Switzerland on June 15 to agree on a roadmap on how to achieve peace.

But it has been dealt a setback by the fact that neither US President Joe Biden nor his deputy Kamala Harris are currently set to attend, in addition to any representative from China.

“We want people all over the world to push their politicians to take part in this summit because it will help stop the war if so many countries are united around Ukraine in Switzerland,” said Topolia.

“We also want to remind people that Ukrainian prisoners of war are still in Russian prisons. A lot of people, thousands of Ukrainian prisoners and we want to remind the torture inflicted on them in captivity.”

Helpful

Around 7,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Wales since Russia launched its invasion two years ago and the Cardiff for Ukraine group, which organises practical support and cultural events for refugees through its hub in the Capitol Centre, has helped organise Sunday’s event.

“I know how helpful the society of Cardiff and Wales was for Ukrainian people,” said the Antytila frontman.

“I know how much support Wales gave to Ukrainian people from the first day of the full scale invasion, when a lot of refugees came here, they were supported by citizens of Wales.

“We came here not only to remind people about the war in Ukraine but to say thank you to all of those people and to gather together with the Ukrainian refugees who are living here now.”

Mick Antoniw, the Labour MS and Welsh Government minister of Ukrainian heritage, is also raising funds to make another delivery to Ukrainian forces in Kharkiv.

Antinow, who has already organised half a dozen solidarity conveys since the outbreak of the war, needs another £600 to purchase medical equipment, protective clothing and 4×4 vehicles.

“The situation in Ukraine remains dire,” he wrote on his fundraising page. “One of its major cities Kharkyiv, close to the Russian border, is under sustained attack. While brave Ukrainians continue to defend their lines in challenging conditions, they urgently need assistance.”

Read more: Welsh miners send aid to their Ukrainian counterparts


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Riki
Riki
2 days ago

Why is it that any time you mention Fascism in regards to Ukraine, your comments get deleted or not approved? Was its founder a Fascist? Yes! Did multiple media outlets report for years how Ukraine has a Fascist problem? Yes! Does the Azov Battalion use Fascistic symbols? Yes! Why then are we not allowed to talk about it?

Midge0
Midge0
1 day ago
Reply to  Riki

The UN debunked the lies that there was a fascist problem in Ukraine (see link at end). There are fascists in Wales; there are fascists in  France;  there are fascists in Germany, Italy and Ukraine. They are everywhere, usually a small minority, but no where has this infection taken hold today more perniciously than in Putin’s Russia, his United Russia Party and his Youth Army.  Putin ordered the Poisoning of Alexiei Navalny,  Alexander  Litvinenko,  Sergey and Yulia Skripal,  Viktor Yushchenko, and murdered Boris Nemtsov,  Anna Politkovskaya, occupied parts of the Ukraine,  bombs civilian infrastructure, invaded Georgia, shut down opposition media,… Read more »

Rob
Rob
32 minutes ago
Reply to  Midge0

Well said Midge. In addition to your comment, many Russians still idolise Stalin, a dictator who killed more people than the Nazis, including millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s. The UN Charter specifically states that nations must respect the Sovereignty and territorial integrity of all other members. This was established post-1945 to prevent history from repeating itself. War and conflict is only justified in self defense. Russian propaganda has become so desperate to justify this invasion they have to resort to whataboutisms (ie Iraq).

Last edited 21 minutes ago by Rob

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