An increasing number of Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) personnel, including officers, are being captured by Russian troops, who share the information available to them with the Russian Armed forces. The information includes methods and tactics for operating the Western weapons obtained from joint exercises of the AFU and units of the armies of Western countries.
Russia has captured hordes of the U.S. and European weapons in Ukraine, which are being now used by the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Russia and the fighters of the People’s Militia from Donetsk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs) are imparting ‘firsthand training’ to their Russian counterparts on the operations and tactics to exploit these weapons fully.
In a video shared on the Telegram Channel RAZVEDKA of the Southern Military District, a Ukrainian deputy commander from the 108th separate mountain assault battalion of the 10th separate mountain assault brigade, who was captured by the Russian side, explains the preparations required for the use of the Swedish AT4 disposable rocket-propelled grenade launcher. The captured senior lieutenant of the AFU says that such weapons are colloquially called the “Swedish Fly”.
“To use the grenade launcher, you first need to pull out the pin, push out the shoulder rest, as well as the second handle. Next, you need to move the sights as quickly as possible, as comfortably as possible. Then there is the shutter. It operates on the principle of a bolt lock,” explains the captured AFU Officer demonstrating the AT4 in the video.
“Further, when you see the target, clamp the fuse (red bar). Point more precisely. After you press the trigger (red button on the right side of the rocket-propelled grenade launcher),” he explains.
A member of the Russian forces asks, “Simultaneously?”
“Simultaneously. Fuse to the stop so that the movement (lateral) does not bring down the sight. And then you press the trigger,” replies the Ukrainian POW.
The captured officer adds that the Swedish grenade launcher can be thrown away after firing.
Another captured Ukrainian soldier explains the Swedish-British NLAW grenade launcher rules.
U.S. and NATO baulk on Ukrainian demands for high-tech weapons
At a time when the West is running out of the stocks of Soviet weapons and Ukraine is demanding more powerful and long-range modern weapons to fight the Russians, the U.S. and other NATO countries fear that Russia will seize their secret military technologies.
This month, a British embassy spokesman told the Ukrainian media that capturing any Western military equipment containing electronic systems for targeting or encrypting communications would give the Russian army an advantage. By studying these technologies, Russians can understand how they work and how to protect themselves, he said.
During the war, the parties often seize each other’s equipment and try to study it. Even the Ukrainian troops have repeatedly changed tactics, having received information about captured Russian weapons.
U.S. and British weapons that can hit 70-80km and are far enough from the front lines are unlikely to be captured, but the loss of shorter-range weapons such as Brimstone missiles with built-in target recognition technology could be critical. In May, photos of such missiles allegedly captured by the Russians in the southeast of Ukraine appeared on Twitter.
On June 17, Reuters reported that the U.S. has deferred selling four MQ-1C Gray Eagle reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles to Ukraine due to fears expressed at the Pentagon that the sensitive equipment may fall into the hands of the Russian military.
As per the Reuters article, the further fate of the deal is determined by higher authorities in the Pentagon. According to the agency, one option could be to install less advanced radars and sensors on UAVs, but such a replacement could take months.
In April, the Politico newspaper reported that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry asked the U.S. for MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. In early June, Reuters reported, citing three sources, that President Joe Biden’s administration plans to sell Ukraine four UAVs worth $10 million soon.
The West is also nervous about escalating the supply of longer-range weapons to Ukraine. In early June, the United States and Britain announced the transfer of highly mobile artillery missile systems and M270 multiple launch rocket systems, or MLRS, to Ukraine. The MRLS can fire shells 80 km away, but the U.S. has supplied ammunition that travels just half the distance. Selling longer-ranged munitions means integrating sophisticated equipment into the basic ones. In the case of M777 howitzers, the U.S. had not included the equipment for firing enhanced range projectiles when delivering it to Ukraine.
At the same time, the Western media reported that NATO countries were selling military electronics to Russia in defiance of sanctions. The American Robert Lansing Institute drew attention to the fact that the Russian weapons captured or destroyed show the use of Western parts. Many components were produced after 2014 when sanctions were already in place on supplying military technology to Russia.