By Dan Peleschuk
KYIV (Reuters) - A group of Ukrainian volunteers has been making "trench candles" from tin cans for troops serving on the frontline as an energy crisis triggered by the war takes its toll on both the armed forces and civilians.
Russian forces have increasingly targeted Ukraine's infrastructure including power stations and the electricity grid, causing regular blackouts and disrupting heating and water supplies.
The trench candles consist of empty enamel paint cans and pet-food tins stuffed with corrugated cardboard and paraffin wax - and crucially they provide warmth as well as light. The candles have been used by troops in previous conflicts, including World War Two.
"(The candles) can be used to dry out a trench, cook food, which is very important, boil water, and warm people up," said Nino Nazarova, 28, an organiser of the initiative.
When Nazarova secured 10,000 cans from a factory in northern Ukraine a few weeks ago, she thought it would take months to turn them all into trench candles, but volunteers completed the task during an event on Sunday at a Kyiv cultural center, singing Ukrainian folk songs as they worked.
"These cans come with a cover. So you can close them, throw them into boiling water, heat them up and then put them under your coat," she said.
The initiative has so far delivered more than 3,000 multi-functional candles to Ukrainian trenches in the south and east of the country, Nazarova added. The candles can reportedly burn for up to five or six hours.
Polina Sheremet, a co-organiser, said the more that Russian missiles rain down on Ukraine, the stronger their motivation to help the army becomes.
"The people's desire to donate and help is growing alongside the risk of missile strikes and other attacks. This is how human nature works," she said.
Some children joined their parents during Sunday's candle-making session, including Hordii who had come with his mother to help.
"At the beginning, it (the war) was really scary, but now I have got a little bit used to it," he said, dsistributing strips of cardboard to the volunteers.
(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alexandra Hudson)