Ukrainian man offers to tow enemy tank back to Russia after it runs out of fuel

UK intelligence suggests invading Russian forces may be suffering ‘acute logistical difficulties’

Andy Gregory
Saturday 26 February 2022 23:56
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Brave Ukrainian offers to tow Russians home in priceless exchange
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A Ukrainian man has filmed himself offering to tow an enemy tank back to Russia, after spotting the assault vehicle having apparently ground to a halt in the middle of a motorway.

The latest in a series of viral clips of Ukrainians bravely confronting Russian troops shows the driver pulling up alongside the motionless military vehicle, and asking several soldiers from his open window whether they have broken down.

Upon being told that they have run out of fuel, the driver prompts laughter from the soldiers as he asks: “Can I tow you back to Russia?”

According to translations on social media, he then tells the soldiers they are en route to Kyiv after they fail to tell him where they are supposed to be going.

Asked by the soldiers for news on the invasion, he tells them that Ukraine is winning the war while Moscow’s troops are good at surrendering because “they also do not know where they are going”.

As a parting shot, the Ukrainian claims to have asked “the whole column” of Russian vehicles advancing towards the capital but that “no one knows where they are and where they are going”. The footage shows him driving past yet another stationary tank within 30 seconds.

While The Independent was unable to trace the origins of the footage, the two tanks appear to be a Soviet amphibious MT-LB vehicle, and a T-72B3 Russian battle tank – both of which are being used by Moscow in the conflict.

The footage was shared widely by journalists, including a BBC disinformation reporter, and government officials, including Estonia’s former chief of defence, Riho Terras, who said: “Does this look like a force that is prepared to fight an extended conflict?

“They have no fuel, no motivation, they do not even know where they are supposed to go. A surreal exchange to be honest, but it shows how unprepared these first waves of Russian invasion have been.

“Nevertheless, our takeaway from this must not be that Ukrainian victory is granted. It is not, we are in the first days of the conflict and desperation can drive Putin to heinous actions. Yet, great to see that more and more Western countries are sending arms to Ukrainians.”

Scott Gehlbach, a University of Chicago political economist who specialises in Russia and Ukraine, suggested there was “lots of evidence that Russia botched the logistics of its military operation”, writing on Twitter: “But I think this video illustrates another problem for Putin: a failure to prepare Russia’s population, including its soldiers, for war.”

He added: “Russia may be able to compensate for an absence of fighting spirit through sheer numbers. But the lack of preparation—logistical and ideological—will imply greater casualties, military and civilian.”

It is not the only report of Moscow tanks running out of fuel as Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Russia’s sovereign neighbour enters its third day, with a UK government minister among those suggesting the Kremlin’s plan “is nowhere near running to schedule” amid strong Ukrainian resistance.

A Ukrainian military Facebook account claimed on Friday that Russian troops stopped near Konotop, north east of Kyiv, had “a problem with fuel and supplies”, alleging that some invading soldiers were walking around with gas canisters “trying to buy fuel” and others were “demanding food from the local population” while businesses had been looted.

Ukrainian service members are seen at the site of a fighting with Russian raiding group in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv

“The main armoured columns approaching Kyiv are still some way off. That is a testament to the incredible resistance the Ukrainian armoured forces have put up over the last 48 hours or so,” UK armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky News on Saturday.

“Clearly the Russian plan is to take Kyiv but the reality is that the Ukrainians are thwarting them thus far. It looks like the Russian plan is nowhere near running to schedule.

“I think that will be a great cause of concern for President Putin and rather points to the fact that there was a lot of hubris in the Russian plan and that he may be awfully advised.”

Fighting intensified overnight in the Ukrainian capital, as small Russian raiding groups’ attempts to infiltrate the city saw street skirmishes break out, as Moscow’s forces continue to advance on Kyiv from multiple directions.

Follow live updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

But the UK Ministry of Defence said on Saturday that the speed of the Russian advance had “temporarily slowed likely as a result of acute logistical difficulties and strong Ukrainian resistance”.

"Russian forces are bypassing major Ukrainian population centres while leaving forces to encircle and isolate them,” the ministry said in an intelligence update.

“Overnight clashes in Kyiv are likely to have involved limited numbers of pre-positioned Russian sabotage groups. The capture of Kyiv remains Russia's primary military objective.”

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