- A Ukrainian soldier called Russian tech support after a captured Russian tank wouldn’t start, per Forbes.
- The support staff seemed unaware they were speaking to a Ukrainian and offered their assistance.
- Ukraine has been capturing and repurposing Russia’s tanks for their own use.
A Ukrainian officer decided to call Russian tech support for help when he ran into issues operating a captured Russian tank.
The officer, whose callsign is Kochevnik, was seen in a video making what appeared to be calls trolling staff working for the Russian tank manufacturer, Uralvagonzavod. The videos were posted to YouTube by Militarnyi, a Ukraine-based media outlet reporting on the war.
Kochevnik said he had problems with his Russian T-72B3 tank, a model that is widely used by Russia’s military. The T-72B3 is also the most advanced version of the Soviet-era T-72 tanks.
The video, which Forbes reported on in a story published on Sunday, did not specify when or where Kochevnik and his fellow Ukrainian soldiers captured the tank. Insider was unable to independently verify who Kochevnik called and when that call took place.
Kochevnik first called up a person he said was a Uralvagonzavod staff member, Aleksander Anatolevich. On the call, Kochevnik ran through a litany of complaints about the tank, from how it had been spewing oil to its faulty compressors.
“I am the commander of an armor group and the problem is we simply cannot operate it,” Kochevnik said in the video, per Forbes.
Anatolevich appeared to be unaware that he was speaking to a Ukrainian soldier. He assured Kochevnik that he would raise Kochevnik’s issues with the design bureau and the engine manufacturer, per Forbes’ translation.
In the second half of the video, Kochevnik made a call to what he claimed was Uralvagonzavod director Andrey Abakumov. Abakumov could be heard telling Kochevnik to report the tank’s issues via a WhatsApp message, per Forbes.
Like Anatolevich, Abakumov seemed to be unaware that Kochevnik was Ukrainian. Kochevnik later revealed his identity to both men at the end of the calls.
“Look, I’m the commander of the armored group K-2. This is the second mechanized battalion of Ukraine’s 54th mechanized brigade,” Kochevnik told Anatolevich.
“When we take more of these tanks as our trophies, make them better so that it will be easier for us to operate them. Agreed? Thank you very much. Take care of yourselves. Glory to Ukraine,” Kochevnik added.
The Russian military has lost two-thirds of its tanks since it invaded Ukraine, according to the Netherlands-based open-source intelligence website, Oryx.
Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst from Oryx, told Insider in May that Russia initially had around 3,000 operational tanks when the war began. The Russians have lost at least 2,329 tanks, per Oryx’s 2022 data.
Besides destroying the tanks, the Ukrainians have also been repurposing them for their own use.
Michael Kofman, the director of the Russia Studies Program at The Center for Naval Analyses, said in March that Ukraine has been capturing and using Russia’s T-80 tanks.
“They were very easily identifiable. You can see an entire unit composed of nothing but captured Russian tanks,” said Kofman, who was speaking at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Representatives for Russia’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.
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