LVIV, UKRAINE (AFP) – A group of men in the western Ukraine city of Lviv are helping the war effort against Russian invaders by producing home-made anti-tank obstacles, from tutorials found in the Internet.
“On the first day (of the invasion), my brother came to me and said, ‘Listen, we need anti-tank obstacles’,” explained Tarass Filipchak, a 30-something local with a long red beard, looking half hipster and half lumberjack.
He was building a house in Lviv, the biggest city in western Ukraine, and found that some of the building materials would come in handy to produce the ‘Czech hedgehog’ anti-tank obstacles, which were used in several countries during World War II.
Filipchak posted messages on Facebook or Instagram and then “friends, acquaintances, even people we don’t know” came to bring them what they needed or to lend a hand, he told AFP.
In his alleyway, a dozen of the anti-tank structures, each weighing around 100 kilogrammes, are waiting to be picked up by Ukrainian soldiers.
They will then send them all over Ukraine. Some have already been despatched to the capital Kyiv and the central Poltava region.
Filipchak has not been keeping an exact count, but estimates his little gang has made more than 60 “hedgehogs” since Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24.
There are now a total of 20 people on the project, including 10 regulars.
“We couldn’t imagine that we would ever do this. We are peaceful people, humanists,” he said.
As a furniture maker, Filipchak has experience in working with metal, but nothing like this.
“We went on Wikipedia, looked at where they came from, who had invented them and we started to do the same,” he said.
The structures are angled metal bars. A vehicle attempting to drive over it will likely become stuck and possibly damaged.
At the end of Filipchak’s driveway, a few men are busy welding the massive metal pieces together.
In the garage, which is cluttered with all kinds of objects, another man is shaping smaller obstacles by welding together tiny pieces of metal.
“Look at that, 1914!” laughs Vitali Bodnar. That’s the year of manufacture of the metal obstacles they are recreating.
“They come from Austria,” he continued. From Gyor to be precise, a town that is now part of Hungary.
The computer developer considers the work his contribution to the war effort.
“We want to be a totally independent country, or in the European Union. No one wants to see this country become part of Russia,” Bodnar said.
He said he cannot imagine his country being defeated by Russian troops.
After the war is over, Bodnar wants to see his country’s borders open, to travel more freely.
Then the computer developer laughs loudly, “Maybe I’ll open my own garage!”