UNITED STATES NEWS

Russia claims it blew up advanced Ukrainian tank, but video shows its helicopter attacked a tractor

Jun 9, 2023, 6:17 AM | Updated: 7:04 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — A grainy black-and-white gunsight video Russia released this week to bolster a claim its military blew up some of Ukraine’s most fearsome tanks actually documented the destruction of a tractor, according to a visual analysis by The Associated Press.

The Russian Embassy in Washington announced Monday on Twitter its forces had “annihilated” eight German-made Leopard tanks, among the most advanced and powerful weapons NATO countries have provided to Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Defense then posted a video Tuesday on the social media network Telegram with text saying it showed “footage of the destruction of foreign armored vehicles, including Leopard tanks.”

The video was shown extensively by Russian state-controlled broadcasters and news sites, which said it was recorded from the thermal imaging system of a KA-52 Alligator attack helicopter. Several black silhouettes of vehicles can be seen, before the helicopter launches a guided missile that strikes one, causing it to explode. “Direct hit!” says a voice on the recording, speaking in Russian.

Germany announced earlier this year it would provide 18 Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, which hopes to receive around 100 donated by various NATO countries over next year. The Leopard 2 is one of the most maneuverable and heavily armored battle tanks in the world, featuring a 120mm gun capable of slicing through Russia’s Soviet-era tanks from more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) away, according to its manufacturer, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

Ukrainian officials declined to comment this week on whether any of their Leopard tanks have been used in battle.

Almost immediately after the Russian video spread online, multiple weapons experts and military bloggers began casting doubt on social media that the helicopter’s missile struck a tank, much less a Leopard.

The visual analysis by the AP shows that the vehicles seen in the video, which was recorded at night, appear to be large pieces of stationary farm machinery parked in a field, specifically a self-propelled sprayer and two combines used to harvest corn and wheat.

The vehicle struck by the Russian missile has four large wheels and sits high off the ground. Leopard 2 tanks are low slung and have treads, like a bulldozer.

The Russian Embassy also claimed this week that its forces had destroyed three French-made AMX-10 light tanks, which do have wheels. But the AMX-10 has six wheels, not four.

The silhouette of the vehicle destroyed in the video appears to more closely match a self-propelled sprayer, a type of specialized tractor common on modern farms.

Thermal imaging systems like that on the Russian helicopter detect sources of heat to target enemy tanks and trucks in smoky or low light conditions. The stationary vehicles in the video appear black, meaning their engines were cold.

Tank crews operating at the front lines typically conceal themselves in vegetation or behind buildings, emerging only to move and shoot, two experts in military vehicles told the AP. It would be highly unusual for tanks to be parked in the open, where they make easy targets for enemy gunners, they said.

The two experts, who watched the Russian video, said the vehicle struck by the helicopter’s missile was not a Leopard tank nor any other type of armored vehicle.

“The silhouette of that particular vehicle or object did not look commensurate with what I’d be expecting for a Leopard tank,” said George Barros, who leads the Geospatial Intelligence Team for Russia and Ukraine at the Institute for the Study of War. “I agree … that it was probably a piece of heavy farm equipment.”

Valentin Châtelet, a research associate at The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, also said the objects in the video were clearly not Leopard tanks.

“They are pointing their thermal camera at three vehicles that appear to be harvesters,” said Châtelet, who is based in Brussels. “And the first target they’re hitting is most likely a sprayer.”

Though both Ukraine and Russia have at various times sought to downplay their battlefield losses, the analysts said the Russian military was particularly notorious for making claims of great victories later proven to be false.

“If you follow what they post and what they claim, you will find that they’ve been outrageously wrong about a variety of different things, be it weapons systems hit that had never been delivered into the theater or official announcements of the Russians capturing particular villages or settlements multiple consecutive times without ever having gotten there in the first place,” Barros said.

___

Associated Press writer Lynn Berry contributed.

___

Follow AP Global Investigative Reporter Michael Biesecker at twitter.com/mbieseck.

United States News

deadly heat wave last summer...

Associated Press

After a deadly heat wave last summer, metro Phoenix is changing tactics

Fresh memories of the deadly heat wave last summer have led Arizona authorities to launch new tactics ahead of summer 2024.

17 minutes ago

Associated Press

Ohio lawmakers holding special session to ensure President Biden is on 2024 ballot

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers gathered Tuesday for a rare special session called by Republican Gov. Mike DeWine to pass legislation ensuring President Joe Biden appears on the state’s fall ballot. Legislators have done this before for Republicans as well as Democrats, but the ability of voters to speak directly through the ballot initiative […]

50 minutes ago

...

KSL Podcasts/Ben Kuebrich

FBI investigates family friend ‘Uncle Hilty’ in kidnapping case

The FBI turns its focus on family friend 'Uncle Hilty' in a high-stakes kidnapping case after uncovering inconsistencies and crucial evidence.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

The Latest | Defense lawyer begins delivering closing arguments in Trump’s hush money case

NEW YORK (AP) — Closing arguments in Donald Trump ‘s historic hush money trial began Tuesday morning in a Manhattan courtroom, giving prosecutors and defense attorneys one final opportunity to convince the jury of their respective cases before deliberations begin. Jurors will undertake the unprecedented task of deciding whether to convict the former U.S. president […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

In Trump’s hush money trial, prosecutors and defense lawyers are poised to make final pitch to jury

NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors and defense lawyers in Donald Trump’s hush money trial are set to deliver closing arguments to the jury Tuesday, each side looking to score final points with the panel before it starts deliberating the fate of the first former American president to be charged with felony crimes. The arguments, expected […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Nobody hurt after plane’s engine catches fire at Chicago O’Hare airport

CHICAGO (AP) — A commercial airliner’s engine caught fire Monday at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the Federal Aviation Administration said. United flight 2091 to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport aborted takeoff after flames were reported around 2 p.m. while the aircraft was still on the taxiway, the FAA said. The airline said the plane, an Airbus A320, […]

15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines can get you smoothly from Phoenix to Frankfurt on new A330-900neo airplane

Adventure Awaits! And there's no better way to experience the vacation of your dreams than traveling with Condor Airlines.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Russia claims it blew up advanced Ukrainian tank, but video shows its helicopter attacked a tractor