TechRussian paramilitary forces use NATO and Polish weaponry in Kursk and Belgorod

Russian paramilitary forces use NATO and Polish weaponry in Kursk and Belgorod

Soldier in a PT-91 Twardy tank, illustrative photo
Soldier in a PT-91 Twardy tank, illustrative photo
Images source: © X, Telegram | UNITED24Media

9:47 AM EDT, March 15, 2024

In the Russian regions of Kursk and Belgorod, Russian volunteers from paramilitary formations are becoming increasingly active. Videos surfacing online illustrate not only the aftermath of attacks but also the array of weaponry at the disposal of those challenging Vladimir Putin’s regime. Among the armaments is a Polish tank.
Reuters has reported that two Russian border regions have essentially transformed into "zones of active combat." Primarily led by three groups - the Russian Volunteer Corps, the "Free Russia" Legion, and the Siberian Battalion, these formations are not only well-organized but also possess the equipment necessary for swift movement and delivering substantial damage to the opposition.

What weapons do Russian fighters possess?

Among their arsenal, Russian formations employ FPV (first-person view) drones. Typically, these are modified commercial drones, small in size, fitted with explosive payloads like grenades and bombs. This approach offers a cost-effective and accessible alternative to military-specific drones.
The conflict in Ukraine has demonstrated the significant threat FPV drones can pose. With a skilled pilot at the controls, viewing real-time images through special goggles, these drones can target not just individuals but also buildings, automobiles, and less armoured military assets. The capability of these drones to carry payloads, including anti-tank grenades and submunitions, has been previously showcased by Ukrainian forces.
For rapid mobility, Russian combatants predominantly use pickups, as seen in various videos, but they also have access to heavier equipment, including the PT-91 Twardy tank, which likely originated from the Polish military.
The PT-91 Twardy, a main battle tank produced in the '90s as an advancement of the Soviet T-72, was primarily used by Poland and Malaysia before Ukraine acquired several units as part of aid from Warsaw. The origins of how such a tank fell into the hands of paramilitary forces in Russia remain unclear.
The PT-91 Twardy surpasses its predecessor in several respects, featuring reactive armour ERAWA, the Obra warning system, and the Drawa fire control system, along with an engine boosted from 780 hp to approximately 850 hp.

Is NATO equipment being used by Russian fighters?

The deployment of heavier armaments by Russian fighters has been corroborated by the governor of the Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, who mentioned that despite intercepting "several rockets," damage and explosions in Belgorod's center were unavoidable.
This marks not the first instance of the Belgorod area facing such incursions. In August of the previous year, the "Free Russia" Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps initiated an attack, revealing that their arsenal includes weapons from various global sources, including NATO countries.
"The Washington Post" has confirmed that these fighters utilize rifles manufactured in Belgium and the Czech Republic, along with AT-4 anti-tank grenade launchers from Sweden. These are noted for being cost-effective, user-friendly, and highly efficient.

Furthermore, these groups have acquired armoured vehicles of the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) type and BTR wheeled vehicles, likely captured from retreating forces loyal to Putin.

Despite their age, the BTR family of armoured personnel carriers, especially those like the BTR-60 produced in the '60s, remains effective for tasks such as infantry transport, supported by an 8x8 drive and capable of speeds up to 50 mph.

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