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A Ukrainian company that manufactures medieval armor produces steel spiked devices to stop Russian vehicles

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Until a few weeks ago, Art of Steel in western Ukraine made silver chain mail, helmets and other armor for reenactments and shows. But as Ukrainians search for a way to defend their cities against Russian invasion, the company mission has become much more serious.

Blacksmiths with Art of Steel, which has been producing medieval sporting armor since 2009, are now using their materials to create caltrops – pointed six-inch spikes that date back to ancient wars. The devices are chained up and placed at checkpoints around Rivne, a town about 210 miles west of Kyiv. The goal, according to a company official, is to use the devices to slow down or prevent Russian vehicles from entering Rivne. The city is home to one of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants, which some fear could be a Russian target.

Over the past two weeks, the store has produced hundreds of caltrops, said the company official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for safety’s sake.

“Ukrainians [are] united in this war,” he told the Washington Post. “Absolutely everyone is trying to help at the fight scene and in the back. Therefore, all materials are used in one way or another.

Art of Steel, a Ukrainian company specializing in medieval-era armour, has produced hundreds of spiked devices – known as caltrops – in an attempt to prevent Russian vehicles from entering checkpoints in his city. (Video: The Art of Steel)

Art of Steel joins a national effort to produce weapons that can be used against Russian forces, which invaded the country on February 24. People across Ukraine are filling empty bottles with materials to make molotov cocktails. Other volunteers sewed cloth blankets to help camouflage Ukrainian military equipment.

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Within days of the invasion, Art of Steel had welded dozens of metal devices.

“Soon there will be many more,” the organization wrote on its Facebook page.

The efforts are reminiscent of 1940s scrap metal drives and other initiatives to get Americans to contribute during World War II, said Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

“There’s a bit of that flavor of involving the whole population,” Cancian said.

A blacksmith with Art of Steel saw the idea of ​​placing caltrops at line barriers and checkpoints and offered to start manufacturing the devices, the organization’s official said. Videos on the store’s Facebook page show the devices, which span between four and six inches, chained to chains.

Spikes are now at every checkpoint in Rivne, according to Art of Steel. Sharp metal can puncture tires.

“With proper use, it will help stop [a] column of vehicles or at least delay them for a while,” the official said.

Much larger and heavier barriers, called “hedgehogs”, were seen along the streets of Kyiv to prevent Russian tanks from moving through the city, Reuters reported.

Caltrops date back to 331 BC, when Alexander the Great used them against the Persians, according to Historynet. Originally just a bullet with four spikes, the devices could cause puncture wounds in humans that could lead to infection or slow death, the outlet reported.

They were also used to stop fighters on horseback, Cancian said. Today, versions of the spiked devices are still used by law enforcement to control traffic or by military personnel to protect vehicle checkpoints in combat zones, he said.

“I saw a few in Iraq,” said Cancian, a retired Marine Corps officer. “We had the equivalent and put it in front of a checkpoint so a vehicle couldn’t just drive through.”

They can be particularly effective if checkpoints are guarded by armed personnel, he added.

Besides caltrops, Art of Steel also manufactures body armor plates. And its blacksmiths aren’t the only ones contributing to the war effort in Rivne: all the metalworkers in town are ‘trying to help the army in one way or another’, a blacksmith told the Telegraph .