Jonas Ohman: after what I saw in Crimea, everything became obvious

"When I saw those soldiers in Crimea, when I saw their weapons, I had no idea that there was going to be a war, that Putin was moving on," Jonas Ohman, the head of Blue/Yellow, an organisation he founded in 2014, admits in an interview.

Jonas Ohman.<br>V.Skaraičio nuotr.
Jonas Ohman.<br>V.Skaraičio nuotr.
Jonas Ohman.<br>V.Skaraičio nuotr.
Jonas Ohman.<br>V.Skaraičio nuotr.
Daugiau nuotraukų (2)

Nov 11, 2022, 11:56 AM

On Tuesday, he and his team received the European Citizen Award at the European Parliament (EP) in Brussels for their unwavering support for Ukraine.

The Vilnius-based organisation has been sending non-lethal vehicles to Ukrainian troops and volunteers since 2014. The money raised is used to buy helmets, bulletproof vests, medicines, clothing and other supplies.

However, Mr Ohman does not take all the credit for himself - he says the Blue/Yellow team is an inspiring example of what a high level of motivation, respect for the people you care about and a strong desire to win can do.

He is convinced that today's Russia simply does not have a future and will pay dearly for its decisions. Meanwhile, Ukraine, according to Mr Ohman, is already becoming an actual state "through blood and suffering".

You have been taking care of Ukrainian troops and their weapons since 2014, when Russia started to demonstrate its aggression in Ukraine, and you set up Blue/Yellow. Your team has been recognised and received a really significant award. What does it mean to you in today's war context?

Of course, it is nice. But I have to say that this is not my personal award - this is for the whole organisation because there are other people, other team members. So we are all honoured, and it's just nice to be recognised.

On a deeper level, it means that the European Union already recognises this kind of organisation. We are not a standard public body that does soft things - we are, I would say, a paramilitary civil society that provides military assistance to another country in times of war, and that is recognised in a slightly different sense. So Europe is beginning to realise that there is a serious conflict, a brutal war.

There are other organisations in Lithuania that raise funds that buy serious things, and Lithuania is, I would say, quite unique in this respect in the European context compared to other countries.

We have an advertisement where a soldier is holding a gun barrel made out of a five-euro note - other countries look at us and wonder how we can make such an advertisement here.

However, your example seems to have inspired others this year, with a number of organisations supporting Ukraine and transporting aid to Ukraine.

Yes, but we are certainly not competing. Sometimes we work together, jointly, sharing information. The only difference is that we have been doing all this since 2014. We have been there since the beginning, so it is just that the work is different - that has to be acknowledged, too, although we are pretty similar.

I would also dare to say that, given how we do things, we are, let us call it, more militant.

Going back to 2014, could you compare what Blue/Yellow and your own activities looked like then and what they look like today when the whole of Ukraine is under attack and much more help is needed?

I have said more than once: when I saw those soldiers in Crimea when I saw their weapons, I did not think that there would be a war, that Putin would go further. Now he is attacking a neighbouring country, and, if he is lucky, sooner or later, he will attack us too. That was just obvious. What kind of war it might be and how it might develop, I could not say at the time, but it was clear that it would happen.

What did the support look like before? Maybe it was more public then, but now the help of the people is gigantic - companies are paying us €100,000 each, which is millions of euros. The support is much bigger now because people realise this war can affect us very badly.

You are in constant cooperation and contact with the Ukrainian military. How do they see the situation today? What motivates them?

Both soldiers and civilians in Ukraine are pretty motivated, mainly because there is simply no other choice. They realise that it is impossible to live with this Russia and allow it to have any influence, to come to an agreement.

They have to stand up to the end, and they understand that. They are determined to fight and suffer, even in domestic matters. There is also the fact that Ukraine is becoming a real state. Through blood, through war, through suffering, but it is becoming. After all this, we will have a very serious neighbouring state.

Winter is coming, so it will probably be more difficult to wage war. What are the defenders of Ukraine most lacking at the moment?

They are asking for winter clothing, but it is not that they need it very much. On our side, there are specific priorities - drones, different types of optics, and machines. We are working on medicine, but we have a few preferences where we are strong, we know what we are doing, and we have an excellent dissemination system.

And what do you think is in store for Russia after this war?

Nothing good. There will be nothing good in Russia. One can speculate on what exactly will happen, but Putin's days are numbered. What will happen next, who will take control, what Russia will do, and how the people will understand the situation is impossible. Unfortunately, there will be nothing good in Russia. Russia will pay a massive price for this folly.

What motivates you, as the creator of Blue/Yellow, not to give up and not to stop for so many years?

Motivation grows, gets stronger, it changes. You still have friends and acquaintances in Ukraine who care about you, which really motivates you to keep going. I can also mention Žemyna (Žemyna Bliumenzonaitė, Blue/Yellow, - authors note), who has made a lot of friends and contacts over the years, she is doing a great job, and I can see that she is getting involved and just living together with the soldiers.

But there is a deeper understanding of war's whole essence and meaning. We are fighting for Ukraine's freedom, for our freedom, for Europe's freedom and harmony, for our values, democracy and freedom of speech.

In Russia, it is the other way around. What we are seeing is also a kind of continuation of the Soviet Union. That is sometimes the case.

30 organisations awarded

As announced in September this year, Blue/Yellow, an organisation that supports the Ukrainian resistance against the Russian invasion, has received the European Citizen Award in Lithuania. The EP Delegation announced the awarding EP.

Since 2008, the European Citizen Award has been awarded for merit in achieving better understanding between EU countries and citizens, developing closer cooperation between them and promoting the EU's core values of human dignity, equality, solidarity, justice, civil rights and civil liberties.

The European Honorary Citizen Award is not awarded at the EU level but at the level of each Member State. This year, a total of 30 organisations from 24 Community Member States were awarded the prize.

Citizens, citizen groups, associations or organisations can apply for the European Citizen of Honour Award for their projects or nominate others. Each Member of Parliament can also nominate one per year.

In Lithuania, the award has been given to St. The Lithuanian Association of Municipalities on St Jacob's Way, the Lithuanian Women's Lobby, the Medardo Čobotas University of the Third Age, the Lithuanian Disability Forum, the Jurgis and the Dragon restaurant, the Mano Guru salad bar.

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