A Ukrainian soldier called up Russian tech support when his captured Russian tank wouldn't start: report

  • A Ukrainian soldier called Russian tech support to help with a captured Russian tank, Forbes reported.

  • The support staff seemed unaware they were speaking with a Ukrainian and offered assistance.

  • Ukraine has been capturing and repurposing Russia's tanks for its own use.

A Ukrainian officer apparently decided to call Russian tech support for help when he ran into issues operating a captured Russian tank.

The officer, whose call sign is Kochevnik, appeared in a video to be making calls trolling staff members of the Russian tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod. The videos were posted to YouTube by Militarnyi, a Ukrainian media outlet reporting on the war.

Kochevnik said he had problems with his Russian T-72B3 tank, a model that is widely used by Russia's military. The T-72B3 is also the most advanced version of the Soviet-era T-72 tanks.

The video, which Forbes reported on in a story published Sunday, did not specify when or where Kochevnik and his fellow Ukrainian soldiers captured the tank. Insider was unable to independently verify who Kochevnik called and when that call took place.

Kochevnik first called up a person he said was a Uralvagonzavod staff member, who gave his name as Aleksander Anatolevich. On the call, Kochevnik ran through a litany of complaints about the tank, including that it had been spewing oil and had faulty compressors.

"I am the commander of an armor group, and the problem is we simply cannot operate it," Kochevnik said in the video, per Forbes.

The person on the other end of the phone appeared to be unaware that he was speaking with a Ukrainian soldier. He assured Kochevnik that he would raise Kochevnik's issues with the design bureau and the engine manufacturer, Forbes reported.

In the second half of the video, Kochevnik called someone he said was a Uralvagonzavod director, Andrey Abakumov. That person could be heard telling Kochevnik to report the tank's issues via a WhatsApp message, Forbes reported.

Kochevnik appeared to reveal his identity to both men at the end of the calls.

"Look, I'm the commander of the armored group K-2. This is the second mechanized battalion of Ukraine's 54th Mechanized Brigade," Kochevnik said during the first call.

"When we take more of these tanks as our trophies, make them better so that it will be easier for us to operate them. Agreed? Thank you very much. Take care of yourselves. Glory to Ukraine," he added.

Data from the open-source-intelligence website Oryx indicates the Russian military has lost two-thirds of its tanks since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Jakub Janovsky, a military analyst from Oryx, told Insider in May that Russia had about 3,000 operational tanks when it invaded. Oryx's 2022 data suggested the Russians had lost at least 2,329 tanks.

Besides destroying the tanks, the Ukrainians have also been repurposing them for their own use.

Michael Kofman, the director of the Russia Studies Program at The Center for Naval Analyses, said in March that Ukraine had been capturing and using Russia's T-80 tanks.

"They were very easily identifiable. You can see an entire unit composed of nothing but captured Russian tanks," said Kofman, who was speaking at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Representatives for Russia's Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider sent outside regular business hours.

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