Captured Ukrainian M2 Bradley Paraded On Russian Propaganda Train

Crowds of onlookers greeted a captured U.S.-supplied Ukrainian M2A2-ODS-SA Bradley Fighting Vehicle that is now on a rail-bound propaganda tour of Russia. It is an unprecedented and somewhat jarring thing to behold, but one that should come as no surprise.

Bradley Fighting Vehicle pictured in Russia today. Unknown author via X/Twitter

Where or when exactly the pictures of the Bradley strapped to the train car were taken is unclear. However, several Russian accounts on X, formerly known as Twitter, suggest it arrived in Moscow on February 26, but this remains unconfirmed. The various images circulating online show that the crowds were able to get an up-close and personal experience with the Bradley.

Unknown author via X/Twitter

It’s also not clear if this is the same Bradley that was the subject of a segment on Russia’s state-run Channel 1 television channel last year. That segment also emphasized the great lengths to which Russian troops went in order to retrieve the armored fighting vehicle, including towing it between minefields.

In addition to the one known captured example, 68 other Bradleys are known to have been destroyed, damaged, and/or abandoned, according to the Oryx open-source intelligence group. The actual total is likely higher as this count is only based on visual evidence. In all, the U.S. military says it has delivered 186 M2A2-ODS-SA Bradleys to Ukraine, as well as four M7 Bradley Fire Support Team (BFIST) variants.

The Russian government has particularly relished in flaunting the capture of Western armor provided to Ukraine, especially from the United States, as well as just destroying those vehicles. The appearance of this railbound Bradley also comes as Russian forces look to have destroyed their first U.S.-supplied Ukrainian M1 Abrams tank earlier today.

Publicly displaying a Bradley as something vanquished by Russian Forces might take on additional significance given the value these vehicles have shown in Ukranian service. A recent viral video notably showed one of Russia’s most modern Russian T-90M Breakthrough tanks being pummeled by a gunner firing at one with the M2A2’s 25mm automatic cannon. You can read more about what the Bradley brings to the fight in Ukraine in detail in this past War Zone feature.    

Of course, this isn’t the first time that captured Ukrainian armor and other materiel have been used as propaganda symbols by Moscow. An array of armor and other items recovered in Ukraine is now on display at the Patriot Park military theme park at Kubinka outside Moscow. Additional displays of captured material have become a fixture at the Army International Military-Technical Forum that is held at Kubinka annually. Speaking at the expo last year, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the war in Ukraine had “debunked many myths about the superiority of Western military standards,” and that the display of said “war trophies” was evidence of this.

Having a train transport the Bradley, and likely other materiel from Ukraine, from one public engagement to another would also be in keeping with recent historical precedent. Back in 2019, another special train carrying a propaganda roadshow was put together to tour the Russian countryside featuring various armor and other weaponry captured after more than four years of fighting in Syria. It’s unknown whether or not any elements of that train are now being used for the new propaganda tour. The main cars that made up what was called the “Syria Fracture” train were notably painted primarily tan, while the one seen attached to the flatbed car carrying the Bradley is predominantly green.

In addition to the propaganda value of the Bradley, there are indications that the vehicle may have yielded some intelligence value for the Russian military prior to its public outing. Some of the holes punched in sections of the Bradley’s side armor skirts have notations about the kinds of ammunition responsible. Some OSINT accounts have suggested that the could reflect foreign materiel exploitation (FME) type testing. The damage could have been sustained in combat and the notations added later, as well. At least a portion of the rubber pads on the vehicle’s tracks are also curiously missing.

Unknown author via X/Twitter

The captured Bradley seen in the Channel 1 segment last year was said to have been undergoing an intelligence inspection of some kind. As we reported at the time, the segment provided a detailed look at the vehicle; from the switches on the inside driver’s panel to views of its remaining Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles (BRAT) still attached. FME programs involve working to obtain information on foreign military equipment through deep hands-on examination, which can include the reverse-engineering of certain components.

However, the specific intelligence value of performing FME testing on captured Ukrainian M2A2-ODS Bradleys has been questioned in the past. With regards to the Bradley filmed for Russia’s Channel 1, one armor expert told us at the time that the Russians “were picking over a vehicle that’s completely unclassified,” and that he had “no concerns” about any sensitive technologies the Russians might find. At the same time, the U.S. military has obtained at least one older Russian T-90A tank for FME purposes, underscoring the potential value of having more hands-on access even to less advanced and/or sensitive systems.

Unknown author via X/Twitter

As we have stated repeatedly since the first rumors of Bradley being sent to Ukraine, losses were inevitable and Russia would leverage those losses to their maximum potential — this includes parading them around to garner support for the war effort.

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Oliver Parken Avatar

Oliver Parken

Associate Editor

Oli’s background is in the cultural and military history of twentieth-century Britain. Before joining The War Zone team in early in 2022, he was Assistant Lecturer at the University of Kent’s Center for the History of War, Media and Society in the U.K., where he completed his PhD in 2021. Alongside his contributions to The War Zone‘s military history catalog, he also covers contemporary topics and breaking news.