‘Hello from Ukraine’: Volunteers make Molotov cocktails to counter Russian assault
Five days after Russia began its assault on Ukraine, citizens in cities and towns across the country continue to hold out against military advances on Monday. While the Ukrainian armed forces have faced off with a Russian offensive, citizen volunteers have become a key part of the Ukrainian resistance.
On February 25, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged citizens across the country to mobilise against Russia’s full-scale invasion. Thousands of people lined up to conscript in the military.
>> Read more on The Observers: Thousands of Ukrainians sign up to fight for their country as Russian invasion continues
Meanwhile, everyday citizens have been called upon to take up arms in order to defend their cities. The Ukrainian defence ministry encouraged in a Facebook post residents of a Kyiv suburb to “make Molotov cocktails” and “destroy the occupier”. A video showed firearms being handed out to civilians in the same district.
In Kyiv’s Obolon, firearms are delivered to anyone willing pic.twitter.com/UbHgBQNZJu— Illia Ponomarenko (@IAPonomarenko) February 25, 2022
As Russian ground forces attempt to reach Kyiv, the towns surrounding the capital are the first line of defence.
‘Normal people are doing crazy things to defend our country’
Our Observer Boris Shulyak lives in Pryluky, a town in north-central Ukraine, around 130 km to the east of Kyiv. While hiding out in a cellar, he uses Telegram to keep track of an ongoing resistance posted at the edges of the city.
Volunteers and the Ukrainian military maintain a permanent guard at all entrances to the city. The air raid siren informs the whole city about the danger. You can hear about six to 10 sirens a day. If the sirens do not work in the city, church bells can be used. I did not take part in the fighting itself, as it is taking place on the outskirts of the city and all citizens are urged to hide in shelters – my family uses a cellar. [I have heard explosions] intermittently for the last two hours.
Many of the people in town took part in the fighting. They are mostly normal people who know something about military tactics. There are many stories of normal people doing crazy things to defend our country.
All the inhabitants of the city are organising to help our military with all kinds of provisions: tires, stone blocks, sandbags, transport, food, power banks, clothes. Women weave military nets and anyone who can makes Molotov cocktails for the military. Residents of the city are also looking for beacons, which the soldiers put out for airstrikes.
There is a road from Ichnia [Editor’s note: 30 km north of Pryluky] and Pryluky to Kyiv. The Russian army is moving west through these cities to Kyiv. At each point, the enemy suffers losses.
Yesterday, [February 27] a battle took place in which our people defended their positions and did not allow the enemy to enter Kyiv. The sounds of gunshots and explosions continue to this day.
On February 27, a unit of fighters in Pryluky was successful in destroying a Russian tank that was attempting to breach the boundaries of the city, according to our Observer and photos published by the Ukrainian ministry of defence. The tank is a T-72B3M model, outfitted with cage armour to protect against anti-tank Javelins. Russia used a similar model in Crimea in August 2021.
Despite keeping Russian troops at bay for the moment, residents of Pryluky are still under constant fear of attack, especially as they hear news of attacks on other small towns on the road to Kyiv.
[I am feeling] very worried. I try to be calm so that my younger brother does not get upset, but my mother and grandmother are very panicked. Right now, our friends called us and said that everything in Ichna and Olshan [Editor’s note: another nearby town] was full of enemy equipment. Explosions have not stopped for an hour and a half. This is a very scary situation.