The Ukrainian soldier stared at the Russian tank. It was destroyed over a year ago in the country’s east and now sat far from the front line. He shrugged and cut into its rusted hull with a gas torch.
The soldier was not there for the tank’s engine or turret or treads. Those had already been salvaged. He was there for its thick armor. The metal would be cut and strapped as protection to Ukrainian armored personnel carriers defending the embattled town of Avdiivka, around 65 miles away.
The need to cannibalize a destroyed Russian vehicle to help protect Ukraine’s dwindling supply of equipment underscores Kyiv’s current challenges on the battlefield as it prepares for another year of pitched combat.
“If our international partners moved faster, we would have kicked their ass in the first three or four months so hard that we would have gotten over it already. We’d be sowing fields and raising children,” said the soldier, who went by the call sign Jaeger, in keeping with military protocol. “We’d be sending bread to Europe. But it’s been two years already.”