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REPORT. Bulletproof vests, Molotov cocktails, sleeping bags: in Ukraine, companies are switching to war production


Although shopping centers, restaurants, cafes and shops are open in Lviv, economic life is slowing down for many companies affected by the war: impossible or complicated transport in the bombarded areas, production and contracts stopped or postponed, end of exports … Entrepreneurs stopped their usual production and put their know-how and their machines at the service of the resistance to the invader.

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Natalia Yarysh, for example: she has been running a clothing business for 14 years. “In our embroidery workshop, we produce traditional shirts, which we will wear to celebrate victory.” For now, sales are slow, but “I remain optimistic for the futureshe says. Victory is at the end of the road and we will celebrate it, I hope, wearing our traditional clothes.”

She decided to convert her company’s activity, and to keep only the teams involved in the manufacturing process, to participate in the war effort: “These are bulletproof vests, which we manufacture with a partner company. It’s to save lives. Our objective is to keep the company alive, it’s impossible to say how things will evolve. Every day brings its challenges, butadds Natalia, I hope that we will find a normal activity soon and dress men and women in our beautiful clothes. She also makes sleeping bags for refugees.

Natalie Yarysh in her clothing workshop in Lviv (Ukraine) on March 19, 2022 (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / FABIEN GOSSET / RADIO FRANCE)

Taras Maselko, he stopped the production of local beer to make Molotov cocktails. A part is distributed on the checkpoints of the surroundings, the other sent to kyiv: “Here are the cocktails we made. There, on the label, we see Putin with the nuclear bomb and Russian soldiers and tanks covered in blood.”

“It is surely the first time in our history that our government has shown its population, on social networks, how to make Molotov cocktails!”

Taras Maselko, entrepreneur in Lviv

at franceinfo

“It shows our unity, says Taras. We will fight for our families, our country, to the last.” His restaurants only cook free meals for the refugees, and he also makes T-shirts to support the army.

More than half of Lviv’s companies have temporarily converted according to Volodymir Korud, the boss of the local CCI which has 470 companies, mainly SMEs. “We receive enormous support, first of all moral, from our partners in almost 140 countries. Some give us financial and logistical aid. Many send us convoys of medical and military aid. A big thank you to them.”

Volodymir Korud, president of the Lviv Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Ukraine) on March 19, 2022 (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / FABIEN GOSSET / RADIO FRANCE)

And he sends this message to the French: “We ask French companies not to help the Russian aggressor to kill our fellow citizens. If you have the possibility, buy Ukrainian: it will help us, and it will help you too.” Because according to him, if Ukraine falls, all of Europe is threatened.

In Lviv, companies are resisting: report by Sandrine Etoa-Andegue and Fabien Gosset

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