- ANNA VOITENKO
The latest batch of metal bracelets produced by the Azovstal Steelworks in Mariupol, a symbol of Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion, went on sale across Ukraine.
Proceeds from the bracelets, which are on sale for around $40, will go to an organization helping fund the purchase and maintenance of drones used by the Ukrainian military.
One of the bracelets. IMAGE: Screenshot from Reuters video
“We are proud to be Ukrainians when we wear this bracelet. It’s a very strong feeling,” said Yurii Ryzhenkov, director of Metinvest, the company that owns Azovstal and is involved in the bracelets.
“My [entire] family has already bought one…and they think it’s something symbolic that unites the whole country.”
Ukrainian fighters have fought Russian forces for months for control of Mariupol, a strategic Sea of Azov port city and industrial hub.
In the final days of the battle, the fighting focused on the vast Azovstal compound which housed the last remaining fighters – and some civilians – until their surrender in mid-May. The fighters are widely considered heroes in Ukraine.
The bracelets are made from metal produced in Azovstal which has been used in a huge sign made up of steel letters declaring “Believe in ZSU [Armed Forces of Ukraine]”. The sign, which was installed in Kyiv, was dismantled.
The bracelets were made by a jewelry company called Sova. The company has produced 30,000 wristbands so far and they first went on sale a month ago.
“One of the stories we heard: the parents bought it [a bracelet] for their son who defended Ukraine on the front line,” Liudmyla Sova, director of the jewelry company, told Reuters.
Bracelets are decorated only with a trident – a Ukrainian national symbol.
“We didn’t want to remelt the steel. We wanted to preserve its structure and characteristics,” Sova said.
Ryzhenkov said Azovstal steel was strong, reliable and of high quality, which resonated with Ukrainians.
“That’s why we believe that this steel, which was produced by the legendary “3600” mill in Azovstal, was really important for many Ukrainians. Especially considering that it is in bomb shelters at the site of this particular mill, where most of the defenders were during those months of resistance,” he said.