Russia displays captured NATO military equipment

The Bell

An exhibition of captured military “trophies” has opened in Moscow, showing off Western military equipment and vehicles that Russian forces had destroyed and seized on the battlefield in Ukraine. Russian propaganda exploited the show to demonstrate the Russian army’s success on the front and tell the public that there is no “invincible” weapon in Ukraine’s arsenal.

  • The exhibition opened during the May holidays — extended public holidays to mark Labor Day (May 1) and Victory Day (May 9) celebrations — to ensure a high turnout. Almost 100,000 people visited on the opening day, the defense minister said. It’s hard to confirm, but videos and photosfrom the exhibition show a significant flow of visitors. The exhibition is being staged at Park Pobedy (Victory Park), dedicated to the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in the Second World War, which Russia calls the Great Patriotic War.
  • There are over 30 types of military equipment on display from 12 countries, including the United States, Britain, Germany and France. Some of the equipment is damaged: for example, there are visible bullet marks on the windshield of a British armored vehicle, while the windows of an Australian Bushmaster transporter had been smashed. The equipment is guarded by men in masks, camouflage or full military uniform. 
  • Russian propagandists paid particular attention to American Abrams M1A1 tanks and a German Leopard 2A6 among the “trophies” on display. Before the exhibition opened, the barrel on the Leopard was bent so that it “looked like a defeated man,” wrote pro-Kremlin newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta. State media said the West had claimed those weapons to be invincible (1,2). “The Abrams was destroyed, and so was its reputation,” reported a correspondent from Channel One.

Why the world should care

The Russian propaganda narrative has long depicted the war with Ukraine as just one front in a wider hybrid conflict with the “collective West.” This exhibition of Western “trophies”, unveiled on the eve of the anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany, is its latest iteration.


Support The Bell!

The Bell's Newsletter

An inside look at the Russian economy and politics. Exclusively in your inbox every week.