Ukrainian forces are finding creative ways to replenish their stockpile of weapons, tanks, and other munitions in the Russia-Ukraine war — courtesy of the Russian army.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Ukrainians have seized control of tanks, ammunition, guns, and even howitzers left behind by the Russian forces, as the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine approaches eight months.
Ukraine's "breakthrough" during last month's fighting in the Kharkiv region also brought an upgrade in weaponry, with the Journal reporting the Russian army left behind many of its "heavy weapons and warehouses of supplies in a disorganized retreat."
Some of the Russian weaponry, including "Soviet-standard artillery shells," was available for immediate use, reports the Journal, while other tanks, guns, and vehicles "too damaged to salvage" were disassembled for spare parts.
According to Ruslan Andriyko, Ukraine's deputy chief of staff, one Ukrainian battalion, the Carpathian Sich, collected 10 modern T-80 tanks and five 2S5 Giatsint 152 mm self-propelled howitzers after clearing the town of Izyum last month.
"We've got so many trophies that we don't even know what to do with them," said Andriyko. "We started off as an infantry battalion, and now we are sort of becoming a mechanized battalion."
Andriyko says the Ukrainian battalion operates four recently captured Russian 2S19 Msta 152 mm self-propelled howitzers, alongside American-made guns, and now has abundant Soviet-caliber ammunition, according to the Journal.
The Ukrainian forces are steadily retaking parts of their eastern Donetsk region, and Kyiv has reportedly regained more than 4,000 square miles of land in the east in recent weeks.
"The Russians no longer have a firepower advantage. We smashed up all their artillery units before launching the offensive, and then we started to move ahead so fast that they didn’t even have time to fuel up and load their tanks," said Andriyko. "They just fled and left everything behind."
Despite the significant aid being pledged to Ukraine by other countries, including the United States, the Journal reports the acquisition of the Russian left-behinds means the Kremlin has unwittingly become Ukraine's "largest supplier of heavy weapons."
According to reports, via Oryx, an open-source intelligence consulting firm, Ukraine has taken command of 460 Russian main battle tanks, 92 self-propelled howitzers, 448 infantry fighting vehicles, 195 armored fighting vehicles, and 44 multiple-launch rocket systems.
"What [the Ukrainians] are capturing is a mix of modern equipment that they can use quite effectively, and some that really belongs in museums," said Jakub Janovsky, who handles the count of weapons losses at Oryx.
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