The ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine has forced previously inconceivable changes on the besieged country’s populace and industry, both of which are now forced to adapt to a new, often brutal and bloody reality.
One such Ukrainian who decided to aid his country in time of crisis is Max Andrewshush - who owns the Lviv-based "Steel Manufacture" factory - which before the war specialized in manufacturing kitchenware. Now, the workers are manufacture steel plates for bulletproof vests, as well as anti-tank barricades and traps meant to fend off the encroaching Russian forces.
"At the beginning of the war we had a very hard time deciding what to do and how to help,” said Andrewshush.
“We contacted volunteers who joined the fighting and the first thing they told us is that they were missing steel barricades against tanks. We started working immediately and thus far fabricated over 600 barricades.”
According to Andrewshush, the majority of his workers were drafted to the army, so he found himself with no more than 30 workers - all volunteers - working tirelessly to produce and send hundreds of barricades to the Ukraine-Belarus border, which recently became one of the main fronts of this war.
"These barricades each weigh 150kg and are effective against armored vehicles weighing up to 240 tons," Andrewshush said.
“They are relatively simple to make in our factory since we have the tools needed to produce them, but our problem is that we have a limited amount of steel, which is nigh impossible to get into Ukraine these days.”
Alongside the barricades, the factory also produces steel traps used by Ukraine's army and militias to halt the advance of Russian vehicles.
According to Andrewshush, his 30 workers already produced 50,000 such traps, many of which are used daily all over western Ukraine, where the fighting is especially fierce.
The factory owner adds he and his men are also creating hundreds of steel plates for bulletproof vests every day.
“We can produce 300 steel plates every day. Knowing that it is now difficult for our country to pay [for such items], we have decided at this stage to adopt a policy of non-profit production.”
In addition to military tools, the factory workers also found creative ways to produce useful appliances to provide some semblance of comfort for the thousands of soldiers and officers stationed all across Ukraine - including wood-powered heaters to provide much needed heat in Ukraine's cold freezing climate.