Conflicts & War

The volunteers helping Ukraine’s snipers stay out of sight

Kyiv, Mar 16 (EFE).- Almost every day around a dozen women armed with sewing machines gather at a Kyiv apartment to craft camouflage clothing for snipers on the frontline of Ukraine’s battle against the Russian invasion.

“We made the first one, we tested it out in the trees at the park, and we sent it to the front,” Julia Julaeva, the brains behind the initiative, told Efe.

“The snipers said it was fantastic and they suggested some improvements, like adding more straps and an elastic cord to tighten the hood.”

Since the success of the first product, Julaeva and her team have sent 175 Ghillie suits — commonly known in Ukraine as ‘kikimoras’ after a folkloric spirit — to the Ukrainian armed forces, where they are used by snipers and for covert reconnaissance missions.

Soldiers who have used the Ghillie suits say they allow them to creep to within 15 meters of enemy troops without being detected.

Julaeva said the suits do not show up on night vision sensors and keep the soldier warm even when temperatures are low.

This improvised military workshop makes two models for soldiers.

The most common is stitched together with shades of green and camouflage, as well as hemp sack fabric to help it blend into the natural surroundings. But the seamstresses also provide white Ghillie suits for winter combat.

Valentina Todosienko, a professional seamstress and owner of the apartment where the women gather to make the suits, said each item requires 12 meters of fabric, much of which is donated via Facebook.

The women have learned to overcome the challenges presented by working in a war zone — when Russian bombs knocked out the electricity supplies in Kyiv, and their sewing machines as a result, they switched to manual jobs such as cutting fabric.

Todosienko has since bought a car battery, which allows them to work through any blackouts that may occur.

The kikimora spirit in Slavic mythology dwells in the house but remains unseens by humans, causing fear and unease — much like a sniper. EFE


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