'We feel mighty': Ukraine turns abandoned Russian weaponry on Putin's forces

ITV News correspondent John Ray reports from the Ukrainian frontline.

To me they look like sitting ducks, but the tank crew seems very relaxed.

Perhaps it’s just that they’re concentrating on their mission - which is to fire on a Russian target two miles away.

We are standing, under clear blue skies on the edge of fields near the contested city of Bakhmut, in the east of Ukraine.

The tank lets lose another salvo. Eight deafening blasts, mercifully without reply from the Russians, before we trundle back to our hiding place in the woods.

"It is hard and dangerous,’’ Leonid, the tank’s driver concedes later. "We get shelled every day. The frontline here is the most intensive fighting."

Leonid and his crew curse Vladimir Putin and his army. But they thank him too. For providing the means of their enemy’s destruction.

The tank we have watched in action is one of many that began this war on the other side.

It’s an obvious thing to say; without NATO’s support, Ukraine could not defend itself against Russia’s invasion.

Less well known is the fact that the biggest supplier of tanks and other battlefield weaponry is Russia itself.

Leonid (above) and his crew curse Russian President Vladimir Putin. Credit: ITV News

Since the start of the war, Ukraine’s armed forces have captured at least 440 Russian tanks and 650 other armoured vehicles, according to Britain’s Ministry of Defence.

It is testament to the Russians' rapid rout that they abandoned so many fighting vehicles as they retreated.

We joined the crew of a Grad missile system that had taken part in the battle for Kyiv, back in the early weeks of the war on the Russian side.

Slightly damaged and left behind by the Russians it was fixed up and redeployed to the eastern front, where it is now part of the Ukrainian defensive line.

It gives the crew some pleasure to be turning Russia’s firepower back on them, says Maxim, one of its team of operators.

"We feel more powerful and more mighty when we think this machines was theirs, and now it’s ours," he says, with a smile.

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