Cash bounties offered by Russian businesses and officials for the destruction of Western military equipment in Ukraine will inevitably lead to more enthusiasts willing to undertake the task, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov predicted on Wednesday.
He noted that although heavy Western tanks such as the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams have yet to be delivered to Kiev’s forces, such proposals demonstrated the “unity and the desire of all” to contribute to reaching the goals of Russia’s ongoing military operation in Ukraine.
Last week, Berlin announced that it would supply Kiev with 14 Leopards and allow other European countries to export their own stocks to Ukraine, amounting to a total of 112 tanks. Washington, meanwhile, has pledged 31 Abrams tanks, but doesn’t expect to deliver them until late 2023.
Following the West’s decision, the governor of Russia’s eastern Zabaikalsky Region, Alexander Osipov, signed an order declaring that local soldiers participating in the fighting in Ukraine could receive a monetary reward if they managed to seize or destroy a German or American tank.
Those who successfully capture a Leopard 2 in working condition could get paid as much as 3 million rubles ($42,909) while those that destroy it could get 1 million rubles ($14,303). Those assisting with the capture could also be paid $7,150 and those who aid in the destruction of German tanks will get $2,240. It’s noted that up to 10 people could be listed as assistants who are entitled to payments.
As for American M1 Abrams tanks, the governor has promised a sum of 1.5 million rubles ($21,450) for their capture and 500,000 rubles ($7,150) for their destruction.
A similar bounty was also offered by Russian chemical firm Fores, which said on Friday that it would pay 5 million rubles ($70,700) to any Russian servicemen that destroys or captures either of the tanks and offered 500,000 ($7,070) for subsequent trophies. The company also said it would pay out a 15-million-ruble ($212,100) prize for the first downed F-15 or F-16 fighter jet if such weapons were ever delivered to Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly urged against foreign weapon supplies to Ukraine, arguing that they only lead to more bloodshed and will not change the outcome of Russia’s military operation. The Kremlin has also labeled the decision to send heavy tanks to Kiev as proof of NATO’s “direct involvement” in the conflict and has warned that the tanks “will burn like the rest” of Western weapons.