While the West continues to provide military aid to Ukraine, more and more of its weapons have become “trophies” for Russia.
This week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu personally inspected a Swedish-made CV-90 infantry fighting vehicle that the Russian military seized during the military operation in Ukraine .
This is one of the most advanced infantry fighting vehicles that Russia has disabled with the RPG-7 grenade launcher – a weapon used since the early 1960s. The Russian Ministry of Defense said that the CV-90 only is “one of many” Western armored vehicles that Russia has seized from Ukrainian forces.
Initially, the West only supplied Ukraine with what was left of the old arsenal, but then they began to provide a variety of armored vehicles, air defense systems, and artillery from the US and Europe. Many of them ended up becoming Russia’s “trophy”.
Tanks, armored vehicles, and self-propelled artillery
The first Western weapons and military equipment were seized by the Russian military just a few months after Moscow launched a military operation in Ukraine in February 2022.
In June 2022, French politician Regis de Castelnau said that two of the Caesar self-propelled guns that the country supplied to Ukraine had been seized by Russian forces. More Western weapons were seized by Russia after Ukraine launched a counter-offensive at the beginning of June.
Ukrainian military planners had hoped that Western armored vehicles, mainly Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, could help Kyiv break through the Russian defenses and turn the tide of the battle. However, the counterattack seems to have fallen short of expectations.
Moscow says about 20-30% of Western equipment supplied to Ukraine was destroyed or seized during Kiev’s counter-offensive.
In June 2023, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that a number of Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles had been seized by Moscow in the Zaporizhia region of southern Ukraine. Some of the armored vehicles had their engines intact, indicating that the crew had abandoned them to retreat.
That same month, a video shared by the Russian Defense Ministry showed that the AMX-10 RC wheeled armored vehicle that France had given Ukraine was abandoned near the town of Novodonetskoye.
About a month later, another AMX-10 RC crashed with the same fate. According to local media, Russia seized the AMX-10 RC under “ideal practical conditions” and the armored vehicle will be transferred to Russian military experts for further study.
In July, a video appeared on social media showing a group of Russian soldiers standing next to an almost intact Bradley infantry fighting vehicle. Russian soldiers say thank you to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for this “gift”.
Anti-tank missiles, Western cruise missiles
Russia not only seized Western small arms and armored vehicles but also cruise missiles.
Volunteer units BARS-11 and Tsar’s Wolves captured a nearly intact British Storm Shadow cruise missile in the Zaporizhia region.
“The Storm Shadow missile was only partially destroyed when it hit the ground and was then divided into parts by Russian technical experts on the battlefield, including the folding wing, for easy transportation.” Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Tsarskie Volki military technical center told RIA Novosti in early July.
According to Rogozin, the Ukrainian armed forces tried to prevent Russia from confiscating British missiles that aided Kyiv with heavy fire and a special reconnaissance group.
However, Russia blocked the effort from Ukraine and transferred the relatively intact missile to Moscow to study the design and countermeasures of this weapon.
Storm Shadow is the longest-range cruise missile that the West has ever given Ukraine. This missile is equipped with a jet engine, which allows it to reach a maximum speed of up to 1,000 km / h. Kyiv often uses Storm Shadow to attack high-value targets deep in Russian-controlled territory.
Retired Russian military intelligence officer Anatoliy Matviychuk said last month that the effectiveness of Russian air defense systems is increasing. He said that the country’s engineers had found “weaknesses” of Western weapons based on the study of “obtained missiles”.