Multiple new pieces of footage from Ukraine has shown Russian soldiers capturing several pieces of heavy equipment recently supplied by NATO member states, with personnel seen driven an American Bradley infantry fighting vehicle and trying to start the engine of a German Leopard 2A4 tank. The soldiers could be heard discussing starting the tank’s engine and driving it back to their positions, with the vehicle appearing to be entirely undamaged and to have been abandoned by Ukrainian forces. A further video released that day showed Bradley fighting vehicle manoeuvring on a dirt in what is thought to be eastern Ukraine. Prior footage released earlier in the week showed Russian personnel inspecting a Bradley fighting vehicle in a warehouse thought to be in Russia itself, with the working vehicle shown on Russian TV. The Bradley was reportedly refurbished in the United States in 2022 and captured fully in working order. Bradleys were first delivered to Ukraine in April, and have since taken heavy losses in combat with over 80 reported to have been lost in combat by the end of the summer of which Western sources acknowledge more than 50.
Footage of Russian forces capturing abandoned American and German built armour first emerged in early July, although whether those assets were successfully returned to Russian lines or were abandoned remains uncertain. The quantities of Western supplied armoured vehicles destroyed has nevertheless far exceeded those captured, with the first images of the Bradleys taking heavy losses emerging in June. Later footage released by multiple Russian sources on July 22 showed multiple Bradleys destroyed on the frontlines in Ukraine’s Zaporozhye region. The Bradley’s armour protection levels have been frequently criticised since long before the vehicle class entered service, with very high attrition rates seen in Ukraine indicating these concerns were at least somewhat valid. The scale of the losses Ukraine has faced, and the increasingly widely acknowledged failure of its offensives, have played a major role in bolstering opposition in the United States to providing further arms or funding for the war effort. With the domestic economy having effectively collapsed, this has the potential to totally undermine not only Ukraine’s ability to sustain military operations, but the Ukrainian state’s ability to carry out even very basic functions.
Much like the Bradley, the Leopard 2 was similarly long expected to take very heavy losses against Russian forces based on the class’ prior performance when deployed by the Turkish Army against Islamic State and Kurdish insurgents in Syria and Iraq – with senior Turkish officials referring to their forces as experiencing “trauma” due to the extreme losses taken against relatively lightly armed militia groups. The Leopard 2A6, which is the most modern widely used variant, was first seen taking multiple losses in early June just days after it was confirmed to be participating in offensives against Russian positions. Concerns in the United States that the reputation of the top American tank the M1 Abrams could similarly be seriously tarnished by footage of combat losses has according to a number of unconfirmed reports led the U.S. to press Ukraine to hold the vehicles back from the frontlines, after the first were delivered in September. Shortly after the class was confirmed to have first been deployed to the frontlines, the first footage of a British Challenger 2 tank being destroyed by Russian forces was published in early September, leaving the recently delivered Abrams as the only class not to have seen losses so far.