Russian Soldiers May Be Stealing Boats To Flee Battle as US Sends More Weapons

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A Ukrainian intelligence report said Russian soldiers were stealing civilian boats to flee across the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine. Illustration by Coffee or Die, photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Some Russian troops in the southeastern region of Kherson may be stealing civilian motorboats to cross the Dnipro River and escape to Russian strongholds under the pressure of Ukraine’s week-old counteroffensive, according to a claim made Friday, Sept. 16, by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense.

A Pentagon spokesperson said they could not confirm those reports. Russian forces in the region have been almost entirely cut off from food, drinking water, and ammunition and are only able to restock supplies under the cover of night, Ukrainian officials said.

The report of Russians stealing boats is nearly unconfirmable, and some “evidence” circulating on social media is false. A picture that Coffee or Die Magazine confirmed to be a Russian Salut-Boats Starcraft 200 motorboat has been circulating on pro-Ukraine websites and social accounts with a claim that it was abandoned by Russian soldiers. However, the photo is a marketing image from the Salut-Boats website.

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A stock photo of a Russian Salut-Boats Starcraft 200 motorboat has been circulating on pro-Ukrainian social media and news sites, left, as evidence of Russian soldiers stealing civilian boats to flee across the Dnipro River. The picture is actually from the Salut-Boats website, right.

As the Ukrainians advance in both the north and south of the country, the Pentagon announced a $600 million weapons package Thursday.

In a Friday press conference, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said the latest weapons package should help consolidate Ukrainian gains.

The $600 million of aid marks the 21st drawdown from Department of Defense inventories since August 2021 and comes only a week after the 20th drawdown.

Ryder listed ammunition for the 16 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, that have been credited with taking out high-value Russian targets as a highlight of the weapons package, along with 1,000 rounds of precision-guided 155mm “smart” artillery that can zero in on targets, which increases lethality while minimizing collateral damage.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy responded to the $600 million of aid on Twitter. “I praise the decision by [President Joe Biden] to allocate up to $600 million as another defense aid package for [Ukraine],” Zelenskyy said. “Our interaction provided its efficiency on the front.”

Ryder also said that two National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems, or NASAMS, that the US promised to send to Ukraine in July should arrive in the next two months.

NASAMS fire a ground variation of the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM. AMRAAMs are the United States’ frontline air-to-air combat missiles carried by nearly all US fighter planes.

“The capabilities we are delivering are carefully calibrated to make the most difference on the battlefield and strengthen Ukraine’s hand at the negotiating table when the time is right,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday.

In total, the US has sent $15.1 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in late February.

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Paratroopers of A Battery, 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, US Army Alaska, fire a 105mm howitzer on Nov. 22, 2016. US Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena.

The latest drawdown includes:

  • 36,000 105mm artillery rounds.
  • Four counterartillery radars.
  • Four trucks and eight trailers to support heavy equipment.
  • Counter-unmanned aerial systems.
  • Mine-clearing equipment.
  • Demolition munitions and equipment.
  • Small arms and ammunition.
  • Night vision devices, cold-weather gear like parkas and gloves, and other field equipment.

Coffee or Die Magazine intern Tom Wyatt contributed to this report.

Read Next: ‘Victory Will Be Ours’: Ukrainian Counteroffensive Routs Russians, Heralds New Phase of War

Jenna Biter has written for regional magazines and digital outlets including on great power competition and special operations medical teams for The National Interest. She is pursuing a master’s degree in national security and is working on speaking Russian. Her husband is on active duty in the US military. Know a good story about national security or the US military? Email Jenna.
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