Molotov cocktails have been celebrated as the ultimate tool for Ukrainians resisting the Russian invasion, but one video showing them in action shows that reality isn’t always as fun as social media rallying cries. A woman is seen throwing a Molotov cocktail at an armored vehicle in a drive-by, inadvertently setting herself on fire in the process. For whatever reason, the Russians did not return fire and the attackers escaped, singed but alive.
Molotov cocktails put to use
It appears that the armored personnel carrier was being towed and may have been abandoned. If that’s the case then it is unclear why it was attacked.
If there were Russian soldiers around, however, the attackers’ survival was miraculous. Few soldiers in any military would have hesitated to open fire on the car in this situation, another fact which implies that APC may have been unoccupied.
A different video, from the recently captured city of Kherson, shows that under other circumstances unintentional self-immolation could have been the least of their concerns.
That footage, which is best left unviewed, apparently shows the aftermath of an attempt by men armed with Molotov cocktails and limited other weaponry to ambush Russian armored vehicles.
Using improvised weapons against vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns and auto cannons is likely to have ugly results in most cases.
Both videos highlight the need for some caution in cheering from afar for civilians taking up arms to resist the invasion without receiving proper training or equipment.
Inspired by the Finns
Molotov cocktails have been a favorite idea for fighting back against the Russians thanks to their origin in the Winter War, during which Finnish troops named them after the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Finns famously inflicted massive casualties on the Soviets thanks to their superior training and familiarity with the landscape, but anti-tank weapons were limited.
Molotov cocktails were employed as an improvised anti-armor weapon by veteran Finnish soldiers who ambushed Russian tanks with great success.
Ukraine, however, is not Finland and this is not the 1930s. Modern vehicles are not nearly as vulnerable and the civilians being equipped with the cocktails are nearly as experienced in how to use them effectively.
The courage and tenacity of the Ukrainian people is undeniable, but most Molotov cocktail attacks will be essentially suicidal, with results not dissimilar from those seen in Kherson.
Before Western media becomes too comfortable with cheerleading for this style of fighting, there should be more awareness of just how much these people are risking and how grim these encounters really are.