Yet another video of a Ukrainian farmer using their tractor to tow away Russian tanks appeared on social media again last week.
In the eight-second clip, shared on Telegram, a small Ukrainian tractor can be seen in the distance pulling a BTR across a field. The area appeared quiet, with no signs of ongoing warfare, suggesting that the tank may have been abandoned in the region following the conflict with Ukraine.
“Farmers continue to harvest Russian machinery,” a Ukrainian Telegram channel wrote. “This year was nice.”
Rob Lee, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, shared a series of videos over the last three months showing other Ukrainian farmers pulling tanks with tractors.
A video from March 6 showed a large Ukrainian tractor pulling a captured MT-LB tank. Another video from March showed several examples of Ukrainian farmers pulling Russian tanks, not just along country roads, but on busy streets in Ukraine with civilians also driving past.
In mid-March, Ukrainian farmers were seen on camera pulling two captured Russian MT-LB tanks, one of which appeared to be destroyed in a missile strike.
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 14, 2022
There are dozens of examples of farmers capturing Russian tanks throughout the country over the last three months.
— Ricardo Ferreira (@MuchPowa) March 4, 2022
The videos don’t mean that Ukrainian farmers are actively getting involved in the conflict, but instead reflect the fact that Russian forces have lost a substantial number of tanks and armored vehicles in recent months.
How Many Tanks Has Russia Lost?
In May, a senior U.S. defense official estimated that Russia had lost almost 1,000 tanks in the conflict, with many having such estimates higher. Many of the tanks are understood to have been destroyed by Ukrainian missiles, while others were abandoned in central Ukraine before Russian troops were redeployed to eastern Ukraine.
The unnamed U.S. official told reporters that Russia had lost at least 50 helicopters, dozens of fighter-bomber aircraft, and more than 350 artillery pieces – although those numbers are almost certainly much higher as the conflict approaches its fourth month.
“We do believe that the Russian military has suffered a … not insignificant amount of attrition,” the official said, adding that Russia continues to lose soldiers every day. Nonetheless, the official also said that Russia has a “significant amount” of capability left to them.
The Russian military’s tank shortage also got so bad recently that the Kremlin ordered old, Soviet-era tanks to be pulled from storage – a solution that leaves Russian soldiers vulnerable to missile strikes from modern NATO-supplied missile systems.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.