Jan 30 (Reuters) – A Russian company said it would offer 5 million rubles ($72,000) in cash to the first soldiers to destroy or capture Western-made tanks in Ukraine, after the Kremlin vowed Russian troops would destroy Any western tank Ukraine shipped to Ukraine.
The United States, Germany and several other European countries are preparing to send dozens of advanced battle tanks to Kyiv in the coming months to help boost Ukraine’s military capabilities as the war approaches the 12-month mark.
The Kremlin criticized the decision as a dangerous escalation, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying tanks would be “burning” on the front lines.
Now, a Russian company — Fores, a Ural-based company that makes proppant for the energy industry — is offering cash payments to Russian servicemen who “capture or destroy” a German-made Leopard 2 or an American-made Abrams tank .
The company said it would pay 5 million rubles to the first Russian soldier to destroy one of the tanks and 500,000 rubles ($7,200) for all subsequent attacks.
Echoing language used by Russian officials and pro-war state TV hosts, Fores said NATO was supplying Ukraine with “unlimited” quantities of weapons and escalating the conflict. It also said it would offer a reward of 15 million rubles ($215,000) if the Western-built fighter jets were delivered to Ukraine.
The tanks have not yet been dispatched to Kyiv, and it may be several months before much of what was promised is delivered.
Since the start of the conflict, the Russian Ministry of Defense claims to have destroyed hundreds of Western weapons.
Kyiv has previously refuted these claims, emphasizing, for example, Russia’s claim that it destroyed more US-made HIMARS rocket launch pads than was delivered to the country.
Previous deliveries of advanced Western weapons, notably HIMARS, are credited with turning the tide of the 11-month war, helping Kyiv to a string of surprise victories and pushing Russian forces back from territory captured at the start of the invasion .
($1 – 69.57 rubles)
Reporting by Jack Cordell; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge
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