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Ukrainians are making Molotov cocktails; here’s why

Ukrainians are making Molotov cocktails; here’s why

Russia-Ukraine war: Ukraine Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar also called on Ukrainians to take up homemade weapons and join the fight.

What are Molotov cocktails? What are Molotov cocktails?

Amid Russia’s invasion, Ukrainians in the city of Kyiv are now taking up arms to fight the Russian troops. India Today visited an office of the Territorial Defence Forces, where citizens were being equipped with Kalashnikovs and ‘homemade weapons’ to fight against the invading troops. Moreover, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar also called on Ukrainians to take up homemade weapons and join the fight. Hence, enter one of the most potent and oft-used weapons – the Molotov cocktail. 

Maliar urged Ukrainians to resist the Russian troops in a Facebook post on Friday. She added that the invading troops have already felt the power of the Ukrainian troops but stated that it is important for everyone to fight the Russians.

Google Trends data also show that the search for Molotov cocktails surged exponentially in the last few days. 

What is a Molotov cocktail?

Known as the poor man’s grenade, Molotov cocktail is an improvised incendiary weapon that is made by pouring flammable liquid in a glass bottle, stuffing it with a cloth that acts as a wick and setting the cloth-wick on fire. When the bottle is hurled and smashed, the flammable liquid turns into a fireball, spreading its flames. 

Molotov cocktails are known to be used by groups or individuals who are short on regular military-issue weapons. In the past it has been used in riots, urban guerrilla warfare, gang wars, and even against invading armies. 

Ukrainians take up Molotov cocktails to fend off Russian troops
Design: Mohsin Shaikh

Social media is abuzz with instances of Ukrainians using Molotov cocktails to fend off Russian troops. There are visuals of groups of Ukrainians preparing large number of Molotov cocktails. Lviv-based Pravda brewery has switched to making Molotov cocktails, following Maliar’s call to make homemade weapons, according to the Kyiv Independent.

Origin of Molotov cocktail

The Molotov cocktail got its name after the non-aggression Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in 1939 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that split Poland into Germany and Soviet territory, while also ceding Finland to Soviets, who had earlier controlled it under the Russian Empire.

That winter the Soviets air raided the country. However, Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, assured Russian radio listeners that the bombing missions were actually airborne humanitarian food deliveries for their starving neighbours. In response to the propaganda broadcasts, the Finna called the bombs ‘Molotov bread baskets’. So, when the hand-held bottle firebombs were developed, they called them Molotov cocktails to go along with his ‘food parcels’.

According to a report in Quartz, the bottle bombs were mass-produced by the Alko corporation that added tar to the gasoline so that the liquid would stick better. 

The Finns reportedly threw half a million Molotov cocktails. The idea was such a hit that the British home guard collected them to use against potential Nazi invasion, and the Polish army developed a newer version with sulfuric acid, sugar, and potassium chlorate. 

However, the actual origins can be traced back to the Irish Republican Army who may have developed and used it by 1922 for their regular operations including ambushes against the police and the military. 

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