See the weapons that Russian troops abandoned in Izyum, Ukraine

A Ukrainian soldier stands on an abandoned Russian tank near a village outside Izyum in the Kharkiv region on September 11.
A Ukrainian soldier stands on an abandoned Russian tank near a village outside Izyum in the Kharkiv region on September 11. (Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ukrainian counteroffensive in northeastern Ukraine has forced Russia to hand over a wide swath of territory it spent months and many lives capturing.

Videos and photos posted on social media have provided a glimpse of what Russian troops left behind during their hasty retreat.

In videos verified by The Washington Post, Ukrainian troops have documented war machines in various states, from combat-ready tanks to vehicles in need of repair. In some cases, Ukrainian forces have wiped out Russian weapons, leaving smoking vehicles to be discovered by advancing forces. Russian forces may also have damaged their own weapons as they retreated.

Many of the discoveries were clustered around Izyum, a strategic city southeast of Kharkiv located along transportation routes that had been key to Russian movements. The city has also become a major gateway for armored vehicles that need maintenance, said Justin Bronk, a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.


retained area

for Russia-

backed

separatists

prior to

february 2022

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control Areas as of 9/11

Sources: Institute for the Study of War, AEI Critical Threats Project

ukrainian claimed territory

through counteroffensives

retained area

for Russia-

backed

separatists

prior to

february 2022

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control Areas as of 9/11

Sources: Institute for the Study of War, AEI Critical Threats Project

ukrainian claimed territory

through counteroffensives

retained area

for Russia-

backed

separatists

prior to

february 2022

Annexed by Russia

in 2014

Control Areas as of 9/11

Sources: Institute for the Study of War

“The abandonment started from the Russian side quite quickly once it became clear that the roads and rail link to the north were cut off,” Bronk said.

Video released by the Ukrainian military on September 11 shows abandoned Russian tanks near Izyum, after Ukrainian forces recaptured parts of the Kharkiv region. (Video: Telegram)

The video shot of Ukrainian forces approaching the edge of Izyum is remarkable for what it does and does not show.

The status of the equipment at the site is unclear, although much of it appears to have no significant damage. “You and I got a tank,” someone can be heard saying. “We all get one tank each.”

After Russia captured Izyum, video Satellite and online images released by Maxar Technologies showed military vehicles at the same site, indicating it may have been used as an equipment hub.

In the video posted Sunday, several tanks and armored personnel carriers are scattered in a wooded area. They appear to be assembled in a circular formation, allowing for 360 degrees of visibility, said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, a former US Army Europe commander. It’s possible the Russian forces were stopping for fuel or waiting for a mission when they fled, Hodges said.

Hodges, who reviewed the video, said it appears the Russians hastily withdrew, leaving behind tanks that show no outward signs of having been sabotaged to prevent the Ukrainians from using them. It is possible that the Russians left on foot or in other vehicles in an attempt to keep a lower profile as they fled.

“If you get out of the tank to escape, it’s because you think the tank is a target,” Hodges said.

Abandoned vehicles in serviceable condition are a boon to the Ukrainian forces, which have suffered their own losses with a much smaller inventory. still relies on Soviet-era systems. While their crews work quickly to repair their own stock, Ukrainian forces can also absorb newer Russian vehicles into their ranks because their design is familiar and they use ammunition already in circulation.

The equipment left in the video is the equivalent of a tank company, Hodges said, which is typically equipped with around 10 or 11 tanks.

Several of them are variants of the T-80, a breakdown-prone high-power tank, Bronk said.

“Some of them are certainly reasonably functional,” he said. “You would expect that at a major staging point there would be a lot of equipment that is there specifically because it was damaged or in need of service.”

The video that circulated on September 11 showed an abandoned 2S19 MSTA-S artillery vehicle on a street in Izyum. (Video: Twitter)

another video, taken along a street in central Izyum, shows an abandoned 2S19 Msta self-propelled howitzer. The system has no obvious signs of being disabled.

Other Photos taken at Izyum show major damage to Russian military equipment, indicating they were hit in battle. An armored car can be seen at a city gas station with bullet holes, burn marks and flat tires.

Video shared online after Ukraine’s capture of Izyum shows the remains of a TOS-1A multiple rocket launcher on a city street. (Video: TikTok)

Ukrainian forces released a video showing the casing of a TOS-1A, a multiple rocket launcher, using its nickname “Solntsepyok”.

The soldier also knew the nickname.

“Oh sun!” she says in the video.

The system is able to start thermobaric munitions, which first deliver an aerosol of fuel before another charge ignites the cloud, helping to cause a larger explosion used to target fortified positions. It can be an indiscriminate and catastrophic weapon for those close to its target.

Oryx, an open source analytics site, has documented only five TOS-1As in Russian stock that have been damaged, destroyed, or captured.

As Ukrainian soldiers took inventory of weapons left in Izyum, officials said they are still moving further into Russian-held areas. On Monday, the Ukrainian army said it had taken another 20 settlements in 24 hours.

Laris Karklis contributed to this report.

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