Footage allegedly showing moment tanks destroyed
Russian defence chiefs have been mocked for claiming to destroy a German-supplied lethal Leopard 2 tank when in fact they hit a combine harvester in Ukrainian fields. The ridicule was led by head of Wagner private army Yevgeny Prigozhin, who sees it as yet more evidence of blundering by Vladimir Putin’s defence chiefs and army.
It is the latest example of the Russian mercenary publicly criticising the Kremlin as Prigozhin continues to undermine Putin’s war chiefs.
The Russian defence ministry hailed “footage of the destruction of foreign armoured vehicles, including Leopard tanks”, but it showed Russia blasting farm vehicles with a missile from a Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter, according to experts.
The Russian crew is heard asking: “What kind of machine is that?” A voice says: “Let’s hit it.” The reply comes: “Ready to hit.” They then celebrate the strike: “Yeah, direct hit.”
The defence ministry’s propaganda team told the Russian media that the footage shows “the destruction of foreign armoured vehicles, including Leopard tanks”.
Lt-Gen Igor Konashenkov, the ministry’s spokesman, boasted about vast Ukrainian losses while providing no convincing evidence.
Total losses in recent fighting amounted to “over 1,500 Ukrainian servicemen, 28 tanks, including FRG-manufactured eight Leopard tanks, three French-manufactured AMX-10 wheeled tanks and 109 armoured fighting vehicles.”
But even Russian military analysts disputed the Leopard tank footage as the claim of destroying the German tanks quickly backfired.
A military informer Telegram channel scoffed: “We do not want to state anything, but the vehicles in the footage published by the Russian Ministry of Defence do not resemble any tanks at all in their silhouette.”
They added that the silhouettes “most closely resemble combine harvesters”, adding: “This is evidenced by the characteristic high mounted discharge augers (pipes), which are clearly not guns due to their location. Also the ‘tanks’ do not show any signs of turrets.”
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The suspected targets were John Deere 9000 grain harvesters and a John Deere 4830 sprayer-like tractor. “We do not know why it was necessary to present footage of a mistaken defeat of agricultural equipment as an actual video of the defeat of the Leopards,” they said.
Prigozhin, head of Wagner, also accused Russian forces of mistaking combine harvesters for Leopard 2 tanks.
“The Russian Ministry of Defence has today posted some impressive work by [its troops],” he said sarcastically.
“The footage clearly shows Leopard tanks moving in a strange tactical manoeuvre towards each other. These tanks are disguised as combine harvesters.
“Their muzzles are bent downwards. This did not prevent our [troops] from discerning enemy equipment in them…
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“These [Ukrainian] b******s have learned to disguise their tanks as harvesters, and their crew as farmers. Thanks [Russian troops] for your fine work. Now we will destroy anything with a bent muzzle.”
Separately, Prigozhin demanded 200,000 soldiers to be put under his control to correct the mess left by Russian forces. He has warned that Russia is losing the war due to incompetence in the army high command.
“The Wagner PMC [private military company] is today the only full-fledged army structure – with planes, helicopters, tanks, artillery and everything else that is needed,” he said.
“I need 200,000 people. Less than 200,000 on the front line Lugansk-Donetsk will not cope. We are ready to take full responsibility.”
He warned that Ukraine had already broken through Russian lines.
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