Western countries have inadvertently provided military equipment to Russia when more and more armored vehicles and weapons supplied by the US and its allies to the Ukrainian government were seized by Moscow.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently personally inspected a Swedish-made CV90 infantry fighting vehicle that was seized by the Russian military in the conflict zone in Ukraine.
The CV-90, touted as one of the most advanced infantry fighting vehicles, was neutralized by the RPG-7, which has been in use since the early 1960s. The Russian military quickly seized the vehicle after the Ukrainian crew abandoned it. In a statement on August 4, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the CV-90 was only “one of many” armored vehicles that Russian soldiers seized from Kiev forces.
Having lost most of its arsenal from the Soviet era in the ongoing conflict, while the domestic military industry lacks capacity, Ukraine is increasingly dependent on weapons supplied by NATO countries. Initially, Western countries only supplied Ukraine with weapons of Soviet origin, but then they began to supply Ukraine with a variety of American and European armored vehicles, air defense systems and artillery. Many of them eventually fell into Russian hands.
The first reports of Western weapons and military equipment being seized by the Russian military began to appear just a few months after the conflict in Ukraine broke out in February 2022. In June 2022, two of the Caesar self-propelled howitzers supplied by France to Kiev were seized by Russian forces. Reports of the seizure of Western weapons emerged after Kiev launched a counter-offensive in June.
Kiev’s counter-offensive is relying on a large number of NATO armored vehicles – mainly German Leopard main battle tanks and US Bradley infantry fighting vehicles – which are supposed to help Ukrainian forces penetrate the Russian defenses. In June 2023, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that a number of Leopard tanks and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles had been seized by Russian forces in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Also in June, another video shared by the Russian Ministry of Defense revealed the unfortunate fate of the French AMX-10 RC wheeled armored fighting vehicle that Paris supplied to Kiev, was abandoned by Ukrainian forces near the town of Novodonetskoye. About a month later, another AMX-10 RC fell into the hands of Russian forces in Zaporizhzhia. The local government said that Russia obtained the AMX-10 RC in an intact condition, and it will be transferred to Russian military-industrial experts for further study. In July, a video on social media showed a group of Russian soldiers standing next to a mostly intact Bradley infantry fighting vehicle.
Russian soldiers using Western anti-tank weapons, such as the Javelin or NLAW obtained from Ukrainian forces, have also become quite common in the conflict area. Earlier this month, a military reporter said that Russian soldiers prefer NLAW as Javelin is said to perform poorly in adverse weather conditions. The efforts of Russian forces to seize Western weapons from Kiev are not only small arms and armored vehicles. Volunteer units BARS-11 and Tsar’s Wolves captured a nearly intact British Storm Shadow cruise missile.