A mobile sauna and laundromat complex assembled in, and donated by, Estonia, has arrived at its destination in Ukraine, despite minor holdups, weekly Maaleht reports (link in Estonian).
ERR Three military trucks set off for Ukraine on Saturday afternoon, containing a sauna in one truck, and a bank of washing machines in another.
The facilities are to help with morale on the front and are initially being sent to the Karpasta Sich volunteer battalion, and will be able to provide rest, recuperation and hygiene, as well as clothes-washing capabilities, to Ukrainian fighters.
Since the complex is mobile, it can be placed several kilometers behind the lines, and moved as and when necessary, with camo netting providing additional concealment.
Maaleht reports that one of the trucks developed a technical fault at the Latvian border, meaning two trucks went on for the meantime.
Project manager Ilmar Raag, a noted filmmaker and writer in Estonia, told Maaleht that: "The clear preference for the Ukrainians fell on the side of us bringing the sauna as a priority to Ukraine, as a Christmas present,."
The convoy arrived on the Poland-Ukraine border Monday evening, Raag said, and customs formalities were expedited to allow a border crossing in around three hours – compared with wait times of up to three days for many trucks waiting on the Polish side.
Once over the border, Ukrainian drivers and representatives of the Karpatska Sich volunteer battalion met the team, most of whom are now on their way back to Estonia, with a few staying behind to help with handing over the facilities and completing documentation.
The project is also work-in-progress, Raag added, and technical improvements can and will be made in liaison with the Ukrainians and based on how the sauna and laundry performs through the winter.
Interestingly, Maaleht says, news of the sauna's arrival preceded it, while Ukrainian customs officials said: "I guess this is the sauna they were talking about," Raag reported on his social media page.
A mention in Forbes magazine and ERR News' report, both sourced from the Estonian-language ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera" original segment, had been disseminated in Ukraine, meaning the recipients and other interested parties were already awaiting the delivery.
The Eesti saun Ukrainasse ("Estonian sauna to Ukraine") initiative is a joint project being managed by Slava Ukraini MTÜ, the Toompea defense district (Malev) of the volunteer Defense League (Kaitseliit), and private sector firm OÜ Huum, which exports saunas.
The original Maaleht piece (in Estonian) is here.
Editor: Andrew Whyte