A Russian soldier who was allegedly offered a nearly £10,000 bounty for blowing up a Western tank recently had his hand amputated, casting major doubt on the validity of the story circulated in state media.
Vladimir Putin has promised to reward his troops for destroying German Leopard 2 tanks and other major Western-supplied equipment.
Russia’s Defense Ministry posted a video on Tuesday showing Andrei Kravtsov, sitting in a hospital bed and receiving an award certificate from Alexander Karelin – a three-time Olympic champion in Greco-Roman wrestling – for destroying a Leopard 2 tank.
Kravstov said in the video: ‘I didn’t go [to war] for a million. I am a patriot. I love my country.’
But it has since emerged that the same soldier appeared at the same military hospital outside Moscow on June 12 when Russian commander Putin was presenting the award.
On this occasion, Kravstov said that he lost an arm in the trenches while attacking the forest. Neither Putin nor the soldiers mentioned German tanks.
Russia’s Defense Ministry posted a video showing Andrei Kravtsov (left), sitting in a hospital bed, receiving an award certificate from Alexander Karelin (right).
Vladimir Putin (pictured on June 21) has promised to reward his troops for destroying every German Leopard 2 tank and other major equipment supplied by the West.
Leopard 2 tanks were first seen in Ukraine at the start of a much-anticipated counteroffensive earlier this month. And despite Russian claims, the first verified incident of a Leopard tank being destroyed was on June 8.
Therefore, Kravstov may have less than four days to be medically evacuated from Zaporizhia, where the tank was claimed to have been destroyed, undergo amputation surgery, recover and arrive at the hospital to meet Putin,’ Agentstovo reported.
It usually takes two days for most patients to recover enough to meet people after amputation surgery, while Kravstov is not allowed to meet Putin without a mandatory one-week quarantine period.
Moscow says its forces have destroyed several Leopards and US-supplied Bradley fighting vehicles since Ukraine launched a counteroffensive earlier this month.
The Defense Ministry said last week that it had given personal bonuses to more than 10,000 Russian troops since the start of the Ukraine war – in what Moscow calls a ‘special military operation’ – for destroying or capturing Ukrainian or Western-supplied hardware.
It said the rate is 100,000 rubles for a tank and 300,000 rubles for an aircraft.
Handing over the certificate for the personal bonus, Karelin told Kravtsov: ‘This is great additional payment for those who do significant damage to the enemy on top of what the state is doing.’
The bonus was paid out of a fund set up by a private group of entrepreneurs, an example of how some Russian businesses are looking for ways to publicly demonstrate their loyalty to the Kremlin’s military campaign in Ukraine.
Propaganda photographs show dozens of destroyed Western armored vehicles, including 16 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and five Leopard tanks. Photo: German Leopard 2s and US-Bradley tanks
A Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 ‘Grad’ fires at Russian positions near Bakhmut on the frontline in Ukraine’s Donetsk region on June 21.
Ukrainian soldiers repair a Leopard 2 tank in Ukraine’s Zaporizhia region, Wednesday, June 21.
Ukrainian artillery batteries fire on the front lines as clashes continue near villages retaken by the Ukrainian army in Donetsk, Ukraine, June 21.
Russian state media carried the soldier’s award as a headline story on Tuesday, but Kravstov claimed he was unable to remember how he destroyed the tank.
“We were running under artillery fire and under a tank attack,” he told Komsomolskaya Pravda in comments.
‘I opened fire with a grenade launcher. The smoke came out. I only found out at the hospital that it was a German leopard.’
Propaganda photographs show dozens of destroyed Western armored vehicles, including 16 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and five Leopard tanks.
Russian bloggers have constantly reveled in pictures of burned-out Western tanks.
As questions were raised over the validity of the award, Putin warned yesterday that his fearsome new Satan II missiles – capable of carrying up to ten nuclear warheads – would be deployed on combat missions in the ‘near future’.
The Russian leader threatened the West with his new Shaitan-II big-beast 208-tonne nuclear apocalypse rocket while speaking to military graduates at the Grand Kremlin Palace.
The giant missile – which can reach the UK in just three minutes and is known as the Sarmat to the Russians – has faced embarrassing development delays. But Putin said the launch pad for the ‘unstoppable’ 15,880mph rocket – the size of a 14-storey tower block – would be put on ‘combat duty’.
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