KUPYANSK, Ukraine—Captured and abandoned Russian tanks, howitzers and fighting vehicles—quickly scrubbed of their Z tactical markers and repainted with Ukrainian crosses—are being turned against their former owners as Ukraine’s military advances in the eastern part of the country.
Ukraine’s rapid breakthrough in the Kharkiv region a month ago ended up putting hundreds of pieces of Russian armor into Kyiv’s hands, military officials say, as the Russian army left behind its heavy weapons and warehouses of supplies in a disorganized retreat.
Some Russian pieces of equipment were ready for immediate use, while others are being repaired to return to the front. Tanks, vehicles and guns too damaged to salvage are being cannibalized for spare parts. Crucially, Russia has also left behind large quantities of Soviet-standard artillery shells that had nearly run out in Ukraine.
This haul is helping power Ukrainian forces as they retake parts of the eastern Donetsk region, including the town of Lyman, and push further east into nearby Luhansk. Kyiv has regained more than 4,000 square miles of land in the east over the past month, in addition to advances in the south.
One Ukrainian battalion, the Carpathian Sich, seized 10 modern T-80 tanks and five 2S5 Giatsint 152-mm self-propelled howitzers after it entered the town of Izyum last month, said its deputy chief of staff, Ruslan Andriyko.