Fiery Baskets

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The Russian invasion prompted many Ukrainians to take up arms and learn guerilla tactics to defend their country against their larger neighbor.

Google data showed a spike in searches for “how to make a Molotov cocktail,” with the search interest being considerably high in the northeastern regions first attacked by Russian forces, including Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, the Washington Post reported.

The improvised hand grenade is made by pouring flammable liquid into a glass bottle and plugging it with a cloth that will act as a “fuse” before setting it on fire.

So far, thousands of Molotov cocktails have been made, using soda, wine and beer bottles. Some bottles are filled with grated Styrofoam, which is said to make the flaming liquid sticky.

Molotov cocktails were first documented to be used in 1936 during the Spanish civil war but their famous name – along with heavy usage – came during the Soviet Union’s invasion of Finland during the Second World War.

The Finnish army employed the device as a way to repel Soviet forces and named it after Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.

Molotov had claimed that Soviet planes bombing Finland were actually dropping humanitarian supplies and that the army was “liberating” the country. The Finns thus called the bombs “Molotov’s Picnic Baskets.”

The device was later used in Hungary in 1956, when dissident Hungarians rebelled against the oppression of the Soviet-backed government, prompting the Soviet Union to send tanks to quell the unrest.

To this day, Molotov cocktails have become the go-to weapon for rebels, agitators and citizen soldiers, and sometimes protesters.

For some Ukrainians such as 19-year-old Evgeny Belinkyi, it’s an important weapon: “I came here to defend my land,” he said. “To defend my homeland, my loved ones.”

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