Making a Molotov cocktail: how everyday Ukrainians are learning to fight

About 100,000 Ukrainians have joined nation’s Territorial Defence Forces

Members of a Territorial Defence unit play checkers with Molotov cocktails while guarding a barricade on the outskirts of Kyiv. Getty Images

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With an overwhelming force bearing down on them, everyday Ukrainians have taken up arms in defence of their nation, with about 100,000 people joining the Territorial Defence Forces, the National Guard of Ukraine reported.

Many of those volunteering have little to no military experience, with some resorting to Google to learn how to use weapons.

Ward Carroll, a former F-14 Radar Intercept Officer in the US Navy and host of a popular YouTube show that focuses on the military, said civilians can be trained to fight in less than a day and they can help to form a powerful, effective insurgency.

“Let's just call it a resistance or an insurgency of a populace that is educated and motivated,” he said.

“That's a heady brew right there.”

Mr Carroll said volunteers should first learn to build and use Molotov cocktails, incendiary devices that consist of glass bottles and an accelerant (usually petrol), with a rag or cloth acting as a wick.

The home-made device can be devastatingly effective.

“The liquid pours into the cracks and can be fatal and very damaging,” Mr Carroll told The National. “So if you chuck three of those at an armoured personnel carrier or even a tank, you can halt the progress of that vehicle.”

The weapon's name, coined by the Finns during the First Soviet-Finnish War in 1939, is a derogatory reference to former Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

Ukrainians have been mass producing Molotov cocktails since the war began more than two weeks ago.

In addition to mastering the construction of Molotov cocktails, volunteer fighters must learn how to use firearms.

Mr Carroll said a civilian can learn the basics in only 15 minutes.

“It's not complicated,” he said. “All the volunteers need to know immediately is how to load, aim and fire a rifle.”

He added the volunteers must also learn how to use their environment to “conceal” themselves from Russian forces.

While the odds may appear to be against them, Mr Carroll said the ad hoc forces have more motivation and better knowledge of the surrounding terrain than the invading Russian forces.

“The war is going to go sort of asymmetric,” he explained.

“If it's a Russian soldier versus a Ukrainian civilian, this is not a pure conflict, and as they get mired in urban areas, the advantage can go to the locals, as we've seen in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Updated: March 11, 2022, 7:53 PM