Humor can be extracted from just about any situation if one is so inclined. The ongoing Russo-Ukraine War, while tragic and bleak, has had one trending, consistent occurrence to provide comedic relief: Ukrainian farmers using tractors last year to steal Russian tanks.
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Footage of tractor-assisted tank procurement began surfacing in February, just a few days into the conflict.
Many Russian vehicles were damaged or abandoned.
Appropriately, the tractor has become a symbol of the Ukrainian resistance; footage, pictures, and memes of Ukrainian farmers using tractors to tow Russian tanks have flooded social media.
The images have even made their way onto t-shirts and posters.
In all, the tractor has become representative of Ukrainian pluck and backbone – and also an image to punctuate the impotence of the supposedly powerful Russian forces.
Farmers on tractors are especially appropriate as a symbol of Ukrainian stubbornness; the Russians have intentionally targeted Ukrainian farms, farm machinery, and farming infrastructure as a part of their formal military strategy.
“Destroy a seed, erase a future,” the Washington Post reported, “On May 16, 2022, tens of thousands of rare seed samples were destroyed in the Russian shelling of Kharkiv’s Yuriev Institute, which houses Ukraine’s National Gene Bank.
“The target was not a coincidence,” the Washington Post continued. “The damage inflicted on Ukraine’s National Gene Bank and the loss of valuable seeds were part of a deliberate Russian campaign to harm Ukrainian agriculture, this year and potentially for decades to come.”
The Russian strategy to target the Ukrainian agricultural industry has merit – it ravages the Ukrainian economy while giving Russia more power in the African and Asian grain trade.
Part of the way in which Russians intentionally damage Ukrainian agriculture is through theft.
“Russian troops are reported to have stolen various types of agricultural machinery,” the Washington Post reported, “combines, tractors, etc., moving them to Russia or Russian-controlled areas.” So, the fact Ukrainians are then turning around and using tractors to steal Russian tanks is reciprocal – and especially rich.
Ukrainians Using Agricultural Equipment to Haul Russian Equipment
Ukrainian farmers have had no shortage of Russian equipment to haul away; Russian losses have been staggering.
Back in September, the website Oryx, “an open source site tracing military equipment losses around the world, has gathered photographic evidence of 5,887 Russian vehicles and pieces of military equipment which has been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured since February 24,” Newsweek reported. “Specifically, Oryx found that Russia has lost 1,029 tanks – 637 of which were destroyed, 42 damaged, 51 abandoned and 299 captured by Ukrainian forces.” Those numbers are now clearly higher now. (Please see the footage here if the embed does not work.)
Ukrainian tractors strike again ⚡️ pic.twitter.com/gb58e67VZX
— Illia Ponomarenko ?? (@IAPonomarenko) March 8, 2022
In addition to tanks, Russia is losing armored fighting vehicles. “There was photographic evidence of the loss of 527 Russian armored fighting vehicles, 366 of which [were] destroyed, seven damaged, 29 abandoned and 125 captured,” as of September. Those numbers are now much higher.
Troop losses have been similarly egregious – with Ukraine reporting well over 100,000 Russian soldiers dead.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.