We kill Russians… with their OWN kit: IAN BIRRELL’s amazing story about Ukrainian repairmen
When Ukrainian forces regained control of Rudnytske, a small village 40 miles east of kyiv, the Russians left them a gift: three tanks and an armored personnel carrier.
On the other side of the capital, as Ukrainian troops pushed to retake the hard-fought town of Irpin, they recovered a highly prized BMD-4M: an amphibious infantry fighting vehicle that is the pride of the Muscovite army.
The Ukrainians have boasted in recent days that they have also seized a secret advanced electronic warfare system, sophisticated missiles, tanks and other armored personnel carriers, as well as rocket launchers and dozens of rifles.
President Volodymyr Zelensky says Russia has become one of the main arms suppliers to his enemy
“We are short of supplies but the Russians are providing us with many weapons,” said Mamuka Mamulashvili, leader of a group of foreign fighters who took part in the assault on Rudnytske on Sunday alongside local forces.
His words echo President Volodymyr Zelensky’s mischievous assertion that Russia has become one of the main arms suppliers to his enemy. “They couldn’t imagine such a thing in a nightmare,” he said.
In a weekend interview, he pleaded with Western allies for more “planes, tanks and armored personnel carriers”, but admitted his forces were taking “a lot” from the Russians.
Mr Zelensky told The Economist that Ukraine commandeered ‘12 or 17 tanks’ just the day before – and surprisingly, thanks to this battlefield loot, defenders can now have more tanks and armored vehicles than at the start of the war despite their own heavy losses.
Yuri Butusov, a well-known Ukrainian military journalist, believes that the country gains more tanks than it loses. “Putin is supplying Ukraine with more military equipment than the West,” he says.
Butusov says the Ukrainians captured more than 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including at least 120 tanks, which were either in good condition or relatively easy to repair.
Butusov says Ukrainians captured more than 1,000 pieces of military equipment, including at least 120 tanks
“Some equipment needs small repairs, but many vehicles are in good condition and our soldiers take them and leave,” said the journalist, who posed on social media with a captured Kornet anti-tank guided missile.
Other analysts documenting the conflict, using photographic or video evidence to verify equipment losses, estimate that Ukraine captures nearly three times as many tanks and armored vehicles as the invading forces. But such data are difficult to confirm.
And of course, Russia also makes propaganda about the use of weapons captured in Ukraine.
To be sure, Ukraine is fighting back fiercely against an army that started out with far greater firepower – including more than four times as many tanks in its arsenal.
Ukraine retaliates fiercely against an army that started out with far superior firepower
As part of the national resistance effort, from large industrial plants to small car workshops, many Ukrainian companies are adapting their sites and refocusing their personnel to repair and reuse military equipment captured from Russian forces.
“To fight, the country must work, each in his place,” said Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. ‘So at last the enemy will be killed by their [own] weapons.’
Yesterday, the public defense company Ukroboronprom claimed to have “mastered the repair of Russian trophy equipment”, with factories now working “around the clock” to return anti-aircraft missile systems and several launchers to the battlefield. rockets. He also offers a $1 million reward for any aircraft he receives.
In cities like Kyiv and Zhytomyr, mounted machine guns were removed from damaged armored vehicles and handed over to car repair shops to be converted into mobile weapons that could be used by Ukrainian infantry troops.
“We are going to redo the weapons so that the guns are aimed at the enemy’s side, not ours,” said Oleksandr Fedchecnko, a mechanic in the capital.
A special Territorial Defense Force unit also repairs captured equipment from a kyiv junkyard, painting the Ukrainian flag over Russian insignia.
Yuri Golodov, the unit’s deputy commander, claims to have been responsible for 24 Uragan missiles returned to Russian forces. “Everything we take from the Russian army, we transfer to the Ukrainian armed forces,” he says.
This “battlefield cleansing” has long been a feature of wars. During World War II and the Falklands War, British soldiers turned captured heavy machine guns on the enemy. More recently, the Islamic State captured significant amounts of US-made equipment after the 2014 fall of Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul.
Ben Barry, senior land warfare researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said: “The Ukrainian military appears to be celebrating the success of its ability to seize armored vehicles and quickly return them to service.”
Well-known Ukrainian military journalist Yuri Butusov believes the country is gaining more tanks than it is losing
Barry, a former British Army brigadier, says such tactics are common when troops in combat use the same equipment. Although Russia has spent heavily modernizing its military under Putin, both sides still often rely on Soviet-era equipment. Captured artillery and military vehicles can also be cannibalized for spare parts and ammunition, relieving pressure on struggling supply chains.
Ukrainians also took great pleasure in sharing videos of farmers towing Russian tanks.
Last week, meanwhile, it emerged that Russian forces retreating from the outskirts of kyiv had failed to destroy a Krasukha-4 command module, which can jam drones and low-orbit satellites as well. than track NATO planes. Reports said it would be flown to the United States for examination.