Russian Businesses Offer Bounty for Destroyed Abrams Tanks

January 31, 2023Nolan Peterson
An M1A2 Abrams main battle tank crosses an improved ribbon bridge during a gap crossing as part of Remagen Ready at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 26, 2022. The US recently pledged to send main battle tanks to Ukraine; Russia quickly followed with a bounty to destroy them. US Army photo by Sgt. Kaden Pitt.

An M1A2 Abrams main battle tank crosses an improved ribbon bridge during a gap crossing as part of Remagen Ready at Fort Hood, Texas, Oct. 26, 2022. The US recently pledged to send main battle tanks to Ukraine; Russia quickly followed with a bounty to destroy them. US Army photo by Sgt. Kaden Pitt.

A group of Russian businesses have pledged a bounty of 10 million rubles, about $141,000, for any Russian soldier who destroys a US-made Abrams tank in Ukraine.

The Russian news site Military Review reported that Russian actor and director Ivan Okhlobystin announced the reward.

“With undisguised pleasure, I hasten to inform you that some representatives of large Russian businesses have authorized me to announce that they are appointing a bonus of 10 million rubles for each Abrams knocked out,” Okhlobystin wrote on his blog, according to Military Review.

Soldiers assigned to Alpha Company 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, operationally controlled by the 1st Infantry Division, operate an Abrams tank while conducting amphibious assault training during the Bull Run training exercise at Bemowo Piskie, Poland, Nov. 25, 2022. US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Foster.

Fores, a Russian company that produces ceramic proppants, previously offered a reward of 5 million rubles, about $70,000, for the first soldiers to capture or destroy a US Abrams or a German Leopard 2 battle tank. 

Last week, Washington and Berlin pledged to provide Ukraine with main battle tanks. The dual announcements on Wednesday reversed months of indecision and marked a milestone in the delivery of Western firepower to Kyiv.

The US will send Ukraine 31 M1 Abrams tanks, enough for an entire tank battalion. For its part, Germany pledged to send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv, a move that opens the floodgates for about a dozen more European countries to send their own German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. 

Last week, the United Kingdom said it would deliver 14 Challenger 2 tanks to Ukraine within two months. France, too, has already pledged armored vehicles for Ukraine and is reportedly mulling whether to send some of its LeClerc main battle tanks, as well.

A Leopard 2 tank drives through a pool during an information training event of the German Bundeswehr in Munster near Hannover, Germany, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2011. The German government has confirmed it will provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 battle tanks and approve requests by other countries to do the same. AP file photo by Michael Sohn.

It will take months to deliver these Western main battle tanks and train Ukrainian troops to operate them. Thus, it’s unclear whether the new armor will arrive in time to boost Ukraine’s ability to repel new Russian offensives this winter and spring, which many Western analysts warn are coming. 

Months from now, however, the delivery of Western main battle tanks could give Ukraine the firepower needed to repel future attacks, and to regain territory currently under Russian occupation.

In a recent report for the US Military Academy's Modern War Institute, John Amble and John Spencer write that the delivery of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine “has the potential to measurably impact the balance on the battlefield.”

Yet, Amble and Spencer add, that potential “comes with an asterisk.”

Russia is believed to have lost over 1,000 tanks in its invasion of Ukraine. Photo by Scott Peterson/Getty Images.

They write: “It will only be achieved if they arrive in time to be involved in the anticipated spring offensives and if Ukraine’s supporters provide not just the tanks, but the training to maximize their effectiveness and the logistics and maintenance support needed to keep them in the fight.”

No matter the timeline, the recent flood of tank delivery announcements drew a furious response from Moscow, which accused Ukraine’s backers of being at war with Russia. The Russian Embassy in Berlin called the German government’s decision “extremely dangerous” and said it “takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation.” 

The Russian Ministry of Defense has already proposed a scheme of payments to reward soldiers for destruction of equipment used by the Ukrainian military. According to Military Review, that payment schedule, reportedly released in November, includes a reward roughly equivalent to $4,250 for downing a helicopter, about $2,800 for destroying a tank, and about $1,400 for destroying a drone.

Read Next: Auschwitz Museum Director Blasts Russia’s ‘Sick Megalomania’ in War Against Ukraine

Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson
Nolan Peterson is a senior editor for Coffee or Die Magazine and the author of Why Soldiers Miss War. A former US Air Force special operations pilot and a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Nolan is now a conflict journalist and author whose adventures have taken him to all seven continents. In addition to his memoirs, Nolan has published two fiction collections. He lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, with his wife, Lilya.
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