Russian Media’s Video of ‘Leopard’ Tanks Was Quickly Debunked:
Russian state media outlet Ria Novosti published video footage that it claimed was recorded from a Ka-52 “Alligator” as the attack helicopter engaged several Ukrainian Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs), reportedly in the Donbas region.
The video was meant to serve to bolster the Kremlin’s dubious claims that Russia had blunted Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
Russia had alleged that eight Leopard 2 MBTs were destroyed in the recent fighting, and that some 1,500 Ukrainians were also killed. The Kremlin had initially failed to provide any evidence, but on Tuesday morning a short video clip went viral – apparently backing up Russia’s allegations that it did destroy at least one, and possibly two of the German-made tanks. In the 47-second-long grainy video, which was initially posted to the Telegram social messaging service, a trio of vehicles appeared to be moving slowly across a field with little cover.
Not Actually Leopard 2 Tanks
Instead of serving as evidence to back up the Kremlin’s claims, the video has been mocked as keen-eyed viewers noted that the Ka-52 didn’t actually attack any Leopard 2s, or even tanks for that matter.
The objects were identified as farm equipment.
“This is possible the dumbest kill video of this whole war and I really mean it. This Russian Ka-52 attack chopper crew thought that they have targeted and destroyed Leopard 2 tanks (you read this correctly). Even a semi-professional can clearly see that this are agricultural harvester and sprayer machines. And as if this is not dumb enough, Russian regime bloggers like Kotsnews plus Ria Novosti issued this footage claiming exactly that,” military news and analysis blogger @Tendar tweeted.
Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) added, “The vehicles targeted by ATGM from Ka-52 not only don’t resemble tanks but are in fact innocent agricultural equipment- a sprayer & combines.”
Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, also sought to debunk the video, posting via Twitter (@Gerashchenko_en), “The vehicles in the footage published by the Russian Ministry of Defence do not resemble any tanks at all in their silhouette. They most resemble combine harvesters.
Others on social media also noted that the audio, which was likely between the crew of the helicopter, didn’t identify the targets and simply fired rockets.
It has been common for both sides to share videos as a form of propaganda in this conflict, but clearly, Russian media was too quick to post the video without proper confirmation.
Earlier this year, a coalition of Western nations agreed to send some 100 Leopard 2 MBTs to Ukraine. The German MBT, which entered service in the late 1970s, is largely considered the very best tank in service in the world today. Ukrainian crews have undergone training with tankers from NATO member states in neighboring Poland.
It remains unclear if any Leopard 2s have even been deployed to the battlefield.
This is possible the dumbest kill video of this whole war and I really mean it.
This Russian Ka-52 attack chopper crew thought that they have targeted and destroyed Leopard 2 tanks (you read this correctly).
Even a semi-professional can clearly see that this are agricultural… pic.twitter.com/cvfgqA9tfj
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) June 6, 2023
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.