Russian Capture Of Ukrainian Leopard Tank, Bradleys Seen In Video

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released a video showing a German-made Leopard 2 main battle tank and U.S.-made M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles that it says were captured by its forces in Ukraine. The footage provides us with our closest yet look at examples of these vehicles lost in the recent counteroffensive, with the scene showing the aftermath of the failed breaching operation last week, an incident that we have since looked at in depth.

A 40-second version of the video was posted today to the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Telegram channel, with the accompanying statement: “Leopard tanks and Bradley IFVs. Now they are our trophies.”

Longer versions have also appeared on social media, some of them also showing the bodies of several Ukrainian soldiers that were killed in the engagement. Viewer discretion is therefore advised.

“Some combat vehicles have working engines, which indicates that the battle was short-lived, and the crews of combat vehicles of the Ukrainian Armed Forces escaped from combat-ready equipment,” the statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense adds. While hard to say for certain, due to the generally poor audio quality, it seems highly possible that the engine of one or more of the vehicles is running at the same time the video was taken. This could suggest they were only very recently abandoned, or perhaps that the Russians were in the process of moving them.

Damaged Bradley seized by Russia. (Twitter screencap)

The number of vehicles captured was not given, but in the video, we can see at least four Bradleys and a Leopard 2. This is in line with what we already know about the doomed breaching operation, during which Ukrainian forces abandoned a single Leopard 2A6, four Bradleys (three of which were damaged), and one BMR-2 mine-clearing tank after encountering a well-prepared Russian minefield.

As we described in our previous coverage after the first vehicles got into trouble, the Ukrainians sent another platoon of four Bradleys into the same kill zone and these then also started taking losses.

The Bradleys were the first examples confirmed destroyed in the conflict so far. The BMR-2 is apparently not evident in the video, although it may simply be obscured by other vehicles. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense statement claims that all the vehicles captured in this action were either Leopards or Bradleys.

The description further says that the armor was filmed by soldiers of the Vostok Battalion after it had been “seized in the battle.” The Vostok Battalion, commanded by Alexander Khodakovsky, a defector from the Security Service of Ukraine, is primarily manned by pro-Russian insurgents from eastern Ukraine. There have also long been rumors that the battalion was established by Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), or at least has strong links to it.

While the Russian Ministry of Defense doesn’t provide a date for the video or a precise location, it does claim that the footage was taken somewhere in the Zaporizhzhia region in southeast Ukraine. This is also in line with the breaching mission, which occurred south of Mala Tokmachka in that same region, last week.

It isn’t clear exactly what Russia could gain in terms of intelligence from the vehicles, but they will certainly exploit them anyway they can and use them as war trophies for propaganda purposes. Radio types and any operational documents left in the vehicles may provide the most actionable intelligence. Assessing the capabilities of sights and other combat systems could be longer-term intelligence gains, but these vehicles are not knew and Russia likely had a very good idea of their capabilities long before this loss.

As part of the ongoing counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces are concentrating their efforts between central Donetsk and the Zaporizhzhia region. While they have made progress in liberating villages from Russian hands, resistance has been fierce and other examples of modern Western equipment have also been lost on the battlefield.

According to the open-source tracking group Oryx, Ukraine has lost 16 Bradleys so far in its counteroffensive, based on visual confirmation. At the same time, the group has identified two Leopard 2s destroyed in combat, and another two abandoned.

To date, the U.S. has donated 109 M2A2-ODS Bradley variants and four B-FIST variants.

To help make good these and other losses, Ukraine is in line to receive 15 more Bradleys, as well as 10 Stryker wheeled armored fighting vehicles, as part of a new Pentagon aid package announced today.

With the counteroffensive only just beginning, and with more Bradleys and other armored vehicles on their way, this will certainly not be the last time we see modern Western equipment of this kind captured or otherwise knocked out by Russian forces in what is a highly lethal environment, even for the best-protected fighting vehicles.

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Thomas Newdick Avatar

Thomas Newdick

Staff Writer

Thomas is a defense writer and editor with over 20 years of experience covering military aerospace topics and conflicts. He’s written a number of books, edited many more, and has contributed to many of the world’s leading aviation publications. Before joining The War Zone in 2020, he was the editor of AirForces Monthly.