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Energy Drinks Boost Ukraine’s Soldiers, and Its Economy

On a sunny morning, deep in the forests of western Ukraine where the war barely reaches, 16,000 cans of a new energy drink, Volia, rolled off the assembly line every hour at the Morshynska beverage factory.

Several hundred miles east, driving toward the front line, the sweating coolers at the minimarts and gas stations are loaded with Volia and an array of other energy drinks: Burn, Monster, Non Stop, Hell, Pit Bull and of course the eye-widening veteran of them all, Red Bull.

By the time one reaches the trenches, where thousands of troops are dug in, trying to survive, the supremacy is complete: Ukrainian soldiers will pass up coffee, Coke, even water in favor of the liquid jolt they need to keep going.

“In the morning, when I wake up, I drink an energy drink. When I head out on patrol, I drink an energy drink. Before an attack, I drink an energy drink,” said one Ukrainian soldier who identified himself by his call sign, Psycho, according to military protocol.

“Let me explain something as a reconnaissance person,” Psycho continued. “When you have to walk three, four or seven kilometers. And you’re carrying 40 kilograms of gear. And you’re covered in sweat. And you haven’t eaten much or slept in three days. If you don’t drink this stuff, where are going to get the energy for that final push?”