By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Aug 8 (EFE).- Gathered in Lviv’s defensive tower and nearby buildings, hundreds of volunteers in the western Ukrainian city spend hours every week weaving camouflage nets to help soldiers on the frontline avoid detection by Russian drones, and hide from the enemy’s artillery fire.
The massive powder tower, built in the mid-16th century, once played a key role in the defense of the medieval city of Lviv. Its thick walls were specially designed to withstand the enemy’s artillery.
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, it once again welcomed those who were willing to contribute to making the opponent’s artillery less deadly.
Long-range artillery and multiple rocket launchers play a crucial role in the ongoing war. To reach their targets, they often rely on drones.
Using cameras of varying quality, thousands of them fly over the heads of wary soldiers, looking for the concentrations of military equipment and positions. Once they detect those, they pass on the coordinates to the command centers that can order artillery to launch strikes against the newly found targets.
Soldiers on the frontline do anything they can to hide their positions, tanks and artillery pieces. They dig them into the land, hide among the trees, or put branches on their equipment.
But the best way is to use large, carefully designed nets that help the equipment blend in with the surroundings.
Currently, the Ukrainian army relies almost completely on the masking nets produced by volunteers. Hundreds of them come to weaving centers like the powder tower, known as Porokhova.
Volunteers line up in front of a stretched plastic foundation for the future net, through which they weave strings of masking material, trying to avoid repeating any patterns.
“It’s a very time-consuming job,” says Sergiy, a business analyst and one of the organizers of the center, who moved to Lviv after the start of the invasion.
“The huge queues from the start of the war are gone as people have to work or get tired. But weaving even a couple of strings can help.
“It also requires a lot of materials, such as cloth and plastic basis with suitably sized cells. We manage to buy some in bulk thanks to donations. People also bring their clothes or bed linens.
“The main requirement, apart from the color, is not to glisten in the sun. We also try to avoid synthetic materials which can melt easily.”
Sergiy also explained that they try to get feedback on the weaving from the military.
The demand from the army is huge.
“What we do is just a drop in the ocean. It is never enough. But we have to keep working because there is no other way,” Sergiy stresses.
He hopes Ukraine also receives some masking nets from its foreign partners to help save it from detection.
Currently, there is no replacement for manually made nets though.
Many people at the center are regulars. Nina Pavlivna has come to help almost every day for the last month.