Russian vehicles line highways out of Kyiv in 'tank graveyards'

Ghosts of Putin’s Army: Columns of Russian armoured vehicles line the highways out of Kyiv in ‘tank graveyards’ as advancing Ukrainians find civilians shot with their hands tied behind their backs

  • Russian armoured vehicles on outskirts of Kyiv have been reduced to rubble amid Ukrainian counterattacks 
  • Dozens of burned out tanks, troop transport trucks and armoured vehicles line the once-bustling highways 
  • Ukrainian units report more possible war crimes after finding the bound bodies of dead civilians in Bucha
  • President Zelensky warned Moscow’s retreating forces left behind ‘catastrophic’ situations and mined homes 

Once-bustling highways on the outskirts of Kyiv have now become a graveyard for scores of Vladimir Putin’s tanks as the Ukrainians continue their successful counterattacks around the capital.

Columns of Russian armoured vehicles have been reduced to rubble as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops continue to repel Russian forces, and in some instances recapture roads and settlements near to Kyiv.

As Ukrainian units advance, they’re met with burned-out tanks and heavily-armoured personnel transport vehicles that line the roads once populated by commuters that would have been heading in or out of the capital. 

But far more grisly finds are being discovered in the villages and towns in Kyiv’s urban sprawl. After recapturing Bucha from the Russian forces, Ukrainian troops found the bodies of 20 men in civilian clothes on a single street.

In what could be further evidence of Russian war crimes, eyewitnesses said one of the corpses had his hands tied, with the dead bodies strewn all over residential roads in the suburban town that was once home to 28,000 people.

President Zelensky warned Moscow’s retreating forces are leaving behind ‘catastrophic’ situations by mining the areas outside their homes, abandoning their ruined equipment and the ‘bodies of those killed’. 

Despite successful Ukrainian counter attacks, the country still faces no reprieve from more than five weeks of war or that the more than 4 million refugees who have fled Ukraine will return soon. Zelenskyy said he expects departed towns to endure missile strikes and rocket strikes from afar and for the battle in the east to be intense.

‘It’s still not possible to return to normal life, as it used to be, even at the territories that we are taking back after the fighting,’ the president told his nation in a nightly video message. 

‘We need wait until our land is demined, wait till we are able to assure you that there won’t be new shelling.’

An aerial picture shows burned Russian armoured vehicles in the outskirts of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, on Friday

Columns of Russian armoured vehicles have been reduced to rubble as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s troops continue to repel Russian forces, and in some instances recapture roads and settlements near to Kyiv

Burned Russian armoured vehicles are seen on the outskirts of Kyiv. Since the conflict began in late February, Russia has lost an estimated 143 planes, 131 helicopters, 625 tanks and 316 artillery pieces

As Ukrainian units advance, they’re met with burned-out tanks and heavily-armoured personnel transport vehicles that line the roads once populated by commuters that would have been heading in or out of the capital.

Despite successful counter attacks, the country still faces no reprieve from more than five weeks of war or that the more than 4 million refugees who have fled Ukraine will return soon. Pictured: A destroyed Russian personnel transport

A Ukrainian soldier inspects a damaged Russian tank depicting the ‘V’ sign as their armed forces continue to share photographs of heavy Russian losses

Pictured: Destroyed Russian machinery in the village of Dmitrivka, near Kyiv on Saturday afternoon

A damaged BMP-2 armoured personal carrier is pictured in Bucha, a town of 28,000 on the outskirts of Kyiv

A Ukrainian policeman inspects destroyed Russian heavy vehicles after Zelenskyy’s forces regained control of the village of Dmitrivka near Kyiv on Saturday

As Ukrainian units advance, they’re met with burned-out armoured tanks and troop transport vehicles that line the roads once populated by commuters heading in or out of the capital. Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks outside Kyiv

Local residents in the village of Dmitrivka, near Kyiv, emerge from their homes and begin clearing away the burned remains of Russian tanks after a string of successful Ukrainian counterattacks

Pictured: Dozens of burned out Russian armoured vehicles line the roads out of Kyiv

A damaged APS is pictured in the recaptured by the Ukrainian army Nova Basan village of Kyiv in Ukraine on Friday

A Ukrainian soldier is seen among the ruins of a burned vehicle in Irpin, Ukraine, on Friday. It came as Ukrainian soldiers regained control in the region that is one of the conflict areas where the most intense battles have taken place

President Zelensky warned Moscow’s retreating forces are leaving behind ‘catastrophic’ situations by mining the areas outside their homes, abandoning their ruined equipment and the ‘bodies of those killed’

It comes as Russia threatened to target British weapons as they are shipped to Ukraine after a video showed a UK-made Starstreak missile shooting down a Russian helicopter in the weapon’s first use in Ukraine.

Russian ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin said heavy artillery and anti-ship missiles that the Ministry of Defence has signalled it will ship to Ukraine could be targeted by Russian forces as they enter the country from the West.

Shipments of the Starstreak missile started arriving in Ukraine last week, and a new video from the Luhansk region shows one of the missiles hitting a Russian attack helicopter and sending it plummeting to the ground. 

The Russian Mi-28N helicopter was shot out of the sky and cut in two as its tail was struck by the portable missile in the clip released yesterday.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said last week that more ‘lethal aid’ will be sent to Ukraine, including longer-range artillery, while Boris Johnson has repeatedly insisted the UK will provide further defensive support to Ukraine, including a new package of 6,000 more missiles.

And after the emergence of the video, Kelin hit back, telling Kremlin News agency TASS: ‘All arms supplies are destabilising, particularly those mentioned by [Ben] Wallace. 

‘They exacerbate the situation, making it even bloodier. Apparently, those are new, high-precision weapons. Naturally, our armed forces will view them as a legitimate target if those supplies get through the Ukrainian border.’

He also accused the UK of forming ‘overly positive reports’ of Ukraine’s military and leadership in the article by a Russian state-owned news agency.

The Starstreak system is a laser-guided missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets and attack helicopters.

Britain is supplying and training Ukrainian troops in the use of the high-velocity anti-air missiles as well as providing body armour, helmets and combat boots.   

The latest comments follow Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky alleging Russian troops were retreating from Ukraine’s northern region. He said: ‘The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable.’

The United States will also work with allies to transfer Soviet-made tanks to Ukraine to bolster its defenses in the Donbas region, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing a US official. 

The transfers, requested by Zelensky, would begin soon, the unnamed official said. The official declined to tell the paper how many tanks would be sent or from which countries they would come. 

And UK defence sources revealed last night that Kremlin forces have run out of vital weapons and cannot now replenish their stocks. 

The MoD also gave a further update saying a fire has destroyed several oil tanks at a depot in the Russian city of Belgorod, which is close to the Ukrainian border.

Zelensky has declined to comment on whether he ordered an attack on the Russian fuel depot. In an interview with FOX News, he said he does not discuss any orders he issues as commander in chief. 

On Thursday, explosions were reported at an ammunition depot in the surrounding area of the city. 

The department added: ‘The probable loss of fuel and ammunition supplies from these depots will likely add additional short-term strain to Russia’s already stretched logistic chains. 

‘Supplies to Russian forces encircling Kharkiv (60km from Belgorod) may be particularly affected.’ 

The update follows Zelensky’s forces driving Russia out of dozens of towns around Kyiv and the north in one of the most extraordinary days since the start of the invasion. 

Today’s developments come as:

  • Russia’s top space official says it will no longer work with its partners, including NASA and the European Space Agency, on the International Space station;
  • Zelensky warns his people that retreating Russian forces are creating ‘a complete disaster’ outside the capital by leaving mines across ‘the whole territory’, even around homes and dead bodies;
  • Intelligence memos from the SBU, Ukraine’s spy agency, claim that more than 600 websites belonging to Ukraine’s ministry of defence were attacked by the Chinese government;
  • At least 33 people are killed and 34 injured in a Russian rocket strike on the regional government building in the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv; 
  • Another private jet with links to Russian oligarchs is grounded in the UK at London Luton Airport as moves to sanction Putin’s supporters continue;
  • Ukrainian officials say their forces have recaptured the city of Brovary, 20km (12 miles) east of the capital Kyiv, with Brovary’s mayor saying ‘Russian occupants have now left practically all of the Brovary district’;
  • Ukrainian President Zelensky declines to comment on whether he ordered an attack on a Russian fuel depot, saying he does not discuss any orders he issues as commander in chief;
  • The US Defense Department says it is providing an additional $300million (£227million) in military equipment to Ukrainian forces defending the country from Russian troops.


A British-made anti-aircraft missile shot down a Russian helicopter in the weapon’s first use in Ukraine, said experts

The Starstreak system is a laser-guided missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets and attack helicopters

Russian ambassador to the UK Andrey Kelin (pictured in 2014) said heavy artillery and anti-ship missiles that the Ministry of Defence has signaled it will ship to Ukraine could be targeted by Russian forces as they enter the country from the West

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with top officials on support to aviation industry in Russia amid western sanctions vis video at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, on Thursday

Boris Johnson (pictured on Wednesday) has repeatedly insisted the UK will provide further defensive support to Ukraine, including a new package of 6,000 more missiles

Rescuers evacuate a man in the town of Irpin, the Kyiv region, on April 1. UK defence sources revealed last night that Kremlin forces have run out of vital weapons and cannot now replenish their stocks

What are Starstreak missiles?

The Starstreak high-velocity surface-to-air missile is designed to defend against conventional air threats like fixed wing fighter planes and helicopters. 

It is made in Belfast by the company Thales Air Defence.

The missile has a range of more than 7km and carries a three dart payload.

The Starstreak system is a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy aircraft

It uses a laser beam guidance system which the manufacturer says is ‘immune to all known countermeasures’. 

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be unleashed as soon as a target is detected – there is no wait for ‘lock on’.

It accelerates to a speed of more than Mach 3 – approximately 2,300mph – in a ‘fraction of a second’. 

Once hitting full speed it releases its three ‘hittiles’ which are then guided to the target. 

It is a man-portable air-defence system – known by the MANPADS acronym.

The missiles are similar to the US-made Stinger which is already being used by Ukrainian forces.    

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said the Starstreak system – a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets – was ready to be used imminently.

Mr Wallace said the first Ukrainian troops had been trained and were now deployed with Starstreak, adding that the UK was ‘doing more than pretty much anyone else’ to help the war-torn country.

‘One of the biggest challenges is that the more you go up in sophistication of weapons systems, the more training you require to use them, which is why the real focus of effort has to be helping the Ukrainians either refurbish or locate Russian or Soviet equipment that is already in their inventory,’ he told the Mail on Sunday. 

‘Just providing British tanks wouldn’t really work.’

The video released on Friday shows the Starstreak missile in action during its first week of use in the war, a source at the MoD told The Times.  

The weapon is by short-range missiles company Thales. It can be shot from a shoulder or stand and has a range of more than four miles.

The missile detaches into three darts mid-air, which are guided to the target by a laser operator on the ground. 

The use of lasers rather than being attracted to infrared energy means flares cannot counteract the three-pronged missile.

Britain has already sent thousands of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, although Nato nations have continued to rebuff pleas from Zelensky for tanks and fighter aircraft.

Mr Wallace told Sky News earlier this week: ‘There will be more lethal aid going into Ukraine as a result of today. 

‘Ukraine needs longer-range artillery and that’s because of what the Russian army has been doing, which is now digging in and starting to pound these cities with artillery. 

‘The best counter to that is other long-range artillery, so [Ukraine will] be looking for and getting more long-range artillery, ammunition predominantly.

‘They are also looking for armoured vehicles of some types — not tanks necessarily, but certainly protective vehicles, and more anti-air [weapons]. All of this will be forthcoming as a result of this conference.’

More than 30 settlements have been reclaimed with Vladimir Putin’s forces retreating up to 25 miles in places.

But officials urged caution, saying the movement is part of Russia’s ‘tactics’ to encircle Ukrainian troops in Donbas and split the country in two.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: ‘Russian units are not withdrawing but repositioning.’

Among the towns back under Ukrainian control last night were Hostomel, where Moscow had hoped to gain the airport to ease taking control of Kyiv, Chernihiv in the north, and Chernobyl, where Putin’s forces were heading across the border to Belarus.


Britain is supplying and training Ukrainian troops in the use of the high-velocity anti-air missiles as well as providing body armour, helmets and combat boots

A Ukrainian soldier poses for photos next to a destroyed Russian helicopter bearing the letter ‘Z’, the Russian invasion symbol, in the Mala Rohan village which has been recaptured by the Ukrainian army near Kharkiv, northeast Ukraine

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged Russian troops were retreating from Ukraine’s northern region. He said: ‘The occupiers are withdrawing forces in the north of our country. The withdrawal is slow but noticeable’

The weapon seen in the video shared on Friday is by short-range missiles company Thales. It can be shot from a shoulder or stand and has a range of more than four miles. The missile system is pictured above

Starstreak surface-to-air missiles are designed to defend against conventional air threats like fixed wing fighter planes and helicopters

Since the conflict began in late February, Russia has lost an estimated 143 planes, 131 helicopters, 625 tanks and 316 artillery pieces.

Russia has also fired at least 1,100 missiles, raising questions about how long it can maintain such an expenditure rate.

Early on Saturday, Zelensky warned his people that retreating Russian forces were creating ‘a complete disaster’ outside the capital as they leave mines across ‘the whole territory,’ including around homes and corpses. 

He issued the warning as the humanitarian crisis in the encircled city of Mariupol deepened, with Russian forces blocking evacuation operations for the second day in a row. Meanwhile, the Kremlin accused the Ukrainians of launching a helicopter attack on a fuel depot on Russian soil.

Ukraine denied responsibility for the fiery blast, but if Moscow’s claim is confirmed, it would be the war’s first known attack in which Ukrainian aircraft penetrated Russian airspace.

‘Certainly, this is not something that can be perceived as creating comfortable conditions for the continuation of the talks,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, five weeks after Moscow began sending upwards of 150,000 of its own troops across Ukraine’s border.

Russia continued withdrawing some of its ground forces from areas around Kyiv after saying earlier this week it would reduce military activity near the Ukrainian capital and the northern city of Chernihiv.

‘They are mining the whole territory. They are mining homes, mining equipment, even the bodies of people who were killed,’ Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address to the nation. ‘There are a lot of trip wires, a lot of other dangers.’

The weapon can be launched from lightweight land, sea or air platforms and can be unleashed as soon as a target is detected – there is no wait for ‘lock on’

Britain has been supplying Ukraine with light anti-tank weapons known as NLAWs. The UK has now donated 3,615 of the weapons. A Ukrainian Territorial Defence Forces member is pictured today holding an NLAW in the outskirts of Kyiv

The Government had initially supplied Ukraine with 2,000 NLAWs but that number has continued to grow. An NLAW anti-tank missile is pictured being fired during a training exercise involving UK forces

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace previously said the Starstreak system – a shoulder-mounted missile that travels at more than three times the speed of sound to take down low-flying enemy jets – was ready to be used imminently

Europe has just a MONTH of gas supplies left before Putin’s threat to turn off gas bites

Europe has just a month of gas supplies left before Vladimir Putin’s threat to turn off the pipelines if foreign buyers refuse to pay in roubles will start to bite. 

European leaders can continue paying in euros or dollars for another month because payments for gas delivered to Europe in April is not due until the end of the month on some contracts and on others, not until early May.   

The rouble soared back to its pre-war level last night, trading at 82.75 to the dollar, as it continues to recover after falling to historic lows when the West applied sanctions after President Putin sent his army into Ukraine on February 24

The revelation comes as the rouble soared back to its pre-war level last night, trading at 82.75 roubles to the dollar, following the Russian President’s latest attempt to ‘blackmail’ states reliant on Moscow’s energy in what has been seen as a bid to shore up the currency. 

Russia has been hit by sweeping sanctions on its economy and trade since the start of Putin’s war in Ukraine, pushing the rouble to historic lows, but measures by EU governments have not targeted oil and gas contracts with Moscow because many member states are heavily reliant on the Kremlin’s supplies.

Europe is heavily reliant on Russia for its energy needs, with around 40% of its gas coming from the country. If Moscow decides to turn off the taps it could trigger supply shortages, factory closures and crippling energy costs across the region. 

Europe’s continued purchase of oil and gas, which costs the EU around £266million a day, severely undermines Western sanctions on Russia as the purchases hand Moscow a wodge of foreign money with which the Kremlin can bolster the economy and currency, as well as fund the faltering war next door.  

But Putin’s latest demands of gas payments in roubles are an attempt to force the West to evade their own sanctions on the Russian economy as buyers have to convert foreign currency into roubles, which are only available through the sanctioned central bank.   

European companies and governments yesterday remained adamant they would continue to settle their contracts in euros or dollars and rejected the demands as a breach of existing agreements.  

Ukraine’s military said it had retaken 29 settlements in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions.

Still, Ukraine and its allies warned that the Kremlin is not de-escalating to promote trust at the bargaining table, as it claimed, but instead resupplying and shifting its troops to the country’s east. Those movements appear to be preparation for an intensified assault on the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas region in the country’s east, which includes Mariupol.

Zelensky warned of difficult battles ahead as Russia redeploys troops. ‘We are preparing for an even more active defense,’ he said.

He did not say anything about the latest round of talks, which took place Friday by video. At a round of talks earlier in the week, Ukraine said it would be willing to abandon a bid to join NATO and declare itself neutral – Moscow’s chief demand – in return for security guarantees from several other countries.

The invasion has left thousands dead and driven more than 4 million refugees from Ukraine.

Mariupol, the shattered and besieged southern port city, has seen some of the worst suffering of the war. Its capture would be a major prize for Russian President Vladimir Putin, giving his country an unbroken land bridge to Crimea, seized from Ukraine in 2014.

On Friday, the International Committee for the Red Cross said it was unable to carry out an operation to bring civilians out of Mariupol by bus. City authorities said the Russians were blocking access to the city.

‘We do not see a real desire on the part of the Russians and their satellites to provide an opportunity for Mariupol residents to evacuate to territory controlled by Ukraine,’ Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to Mariupol’s mayor, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

He said Russian forces ‘are categorically not allowing any humanitarian cargo, even in small amounts, into the city.’

Around 100,000 people are believed to remain in the city, down from a prewar 430,000. Weeks of Russian bombardment and street fighting have caused severe shortages of water, food, fuel and medicine.

‘We are running out of adjectives to describe the horrors that residents in Mariupol have suffered,’ Red Cross spokesperson Ewan Watson said.

On Thursday, Russian forces blocked a 45-bus convoy attempting to evacuate people from Mariupol and seized 14 tons of food and medical supplies bound for the city, Ukrainian authorities said.

Zelensky said more than 3,000 people were able to leave Mariupol on Friday.

He said he discussed the humanitarian disaster with French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone and with the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, during her visit to Kyiv.

‘Europe doesn’t have the right to be silent about what is happening in our Mariupol,’ Zelensky said. ‘The whole world should respond to this humanitarian catastrophe.’

Elsewhere, at least three Russian ballistic missiles were fired late Friday at the Odesa region on the Black Sea, regional leader Maksim Marchenko said. The Ukrainian military said the Iskander missiles did not hit the critical infrastructure they targeted.

Odesa is Ukraine’s largest port and the headquarters of its navy.

As for the fuel depot explosion, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said two Ukrainian helicopter gunships flew in extremely low and attacked the civilian oil storage facility on the outskirts of the city of Belgorod, about 25 kilometers (16 miles) from the Ukraine border.

A destroyed military truck is seen on an empty street in the town of Makariv, in the Kyiv region, on Friday as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues

Local residents walk past buildings damaged by shelling in the town of Makariv, in the Kyiv region of Ukraine, on April 1

A residential house destroyed by shelling is seen in the town of Makariv, Ukraine. Zelensky warned of difficult battles ahead as Russia redeploys troops. ‘We are preparing for an even more active defense,’ he said

A dog walks along an empty street as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues. Ukraine’s military said it had retaken 29 settlements in the Kyiv and Chernihiv regions

Flowers left on a damaged Ukrainian BMP-2 armoured personal carrier are seen in the town of Makariv, Ukraine, on Friday

The regional governor said two workers at the depot were wounded, but the Rosneft state oil company denied anyone was hurt.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s national security council, said on Ukrainian television: ‘For some reason they say that we did it, but in fact this does not correspond with reality.’

Later, in an interview with Fox, Zelensky refused to say whether Ukraine was behind the attack.

On the outskirts of Kyiv, where Russian troops have withdrawn, damaged cars lined the streets of Irpin, a suburban area popular with young families, now in ruins. Emergency workers carried elderly people on stretchers over a wrecked bridge to safety.

Three wooden crosses next to a residential building that was damaged in a shelling marked the graves of a mother and son and an unknown man. A resident who gave her name only as Lila said she helped hurriedly bury them on March 5, just before Russian troops moved in.

‘They were hit with artillery and they were burned alive,’ she said.

An Irpin resident who gave his name only as Andriy said the Russians packed up their equipment and left on Tuesday. The next day, they shelled the town for close to an hour before Ukrainian soldiers retook it.

‘I don’t think this is over,’ Andriy said. ‘They will be back.’

Russia’s war effort stalls as the Red Army can’t get replacement weapons or spares for their crippled convoys… because they’re all made in Ukraine

By Mark Nicol and Andy Jehring for the Daily Mail

Russia’s war effort is grinding to a halt because much of the military hardware they need is made in Ukraine, it emerged last night.

Kremlin forces have run out of vital weapons and cannot now replenish their stocks, UK defence sources revealed.

The revelations came as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces drove Russia out of dozens of towns around Kyiv and the north in one of the most extraordinary days since the start of the invasion.

More than 30 settlements were reclaimed with Vladimir Putin’s forces retreating up to 25 miles in places.

But officials urged caution, saying the movement is part of Russia’s ‘tactics’ to encircle Ukrainian troops in Donbas and split the country in two.

Russia’s war effort is grinding to a halt because much of the military hardware they need is made in Ukraine, it emerged as defence sources said the Kremlin could not replenish its stocks

The Daily Mail can reveal that Ukraine had previously supplied Russia with cruise missiles, helicopter engine parts and fighter jet components. It also produced the fire control systems used by Russian tanks (one seen here at the bottom of a river)

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: ‘Russian units are not withdrawing but repositioning.’

Among the towns back under Ukrainian control last night were Hostomel, where Moscow had hoped to gain the airport to ease taking control of Kyiv, Chernihiv in the north, and Chernobyl, where Putin’s forces were heading across the border to Belarus.

The Daily Mail can reveal that Ukraine had previously supplied Russia with cruise missiles, helicopter engine parts and fighter jet components. It also produced the fire control systems used by Russian tanks.

Now, when these systems fail, they cannot be replaced. Russia is unable to source these items or alternatives from other countries due to international sanctions.

The revelations came as President Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces drove Russia out of dozens of towns around Kyiv and the north in one of the most extraordinary days since the start of the invasion

Pictured: Ukrainian servicemen ride on an armoured transporter driving through a Russian position overran by Ukrainian forces outside Kyiv

Starving soldiers reduced to ‘eating stray dogs’

Starving Russian soldiers have been eating stray dogs abandoned by their fleeing Ukrainian owners, it has been reported.

The grim claim – allegedly from a telephone call intercepted by Ukraine’s security services – is a sign of how stretched and harried the invaders’ supply lines are.

According to a transcript released by the Ukrainian agents, a Russian soldier was asked: ‘Are you eating OK at least?’

He is said to have replied: ‘Not too bad. We had alabai [a Central Asian sheepdog] yesterday. We wanted some meat.’

Armies should be provided with long-life ration packs, which do not need to be chilled, and typically contain boil-in-the-bag ready meals.

But the Ukrainians’ attacks on convoys into the country appear to be cutting off supplies, reducing the Russian army to desperate measures as they live off the land.

Other reportedly intercepted calls from Putin’s soldiers have revealed not only shortages of food, but also of ammunition and fuel.

Russian troops are said to have been raiding supermarkets for food and alcohol, as well as looting homes for supplies.

Hotelier Tetiana Schevchenko, 47, told The Times that Russian and Chechen fighters in Trostyanets, in eastern Ukraine, had been taking whatever they wanted from properties, and killing civilians who get in their way.

In Odessa, on the Black Sea coast, two vets are said to be still in the city and working relentlessly to help the pets left behind.

Some of the strays across the country have even supposedly been keeping alive by feeding on the corpses of dead Russians.

Since the conflict began in late February, Russia has lost an estimated 143 planes, 131 helicopters, 625 tanks and 316 artillery pieces.

Russia has also fired at least 1,100 missiles, raising questions about how long it can maintain such an expenditure rate.

Given Russia’s reliance on Ukraine for military components, UK defence sources say Russia’s war effort is in serious trouble.

Last night a source said: ‘Serious amounts of components for Russian weapons systems were made there [Ukraine]. That won’t be happening any more.

‘Russia cannot manufacture this equipment itself or import it, so it won’t be getting any of these materials any time soon. The hardware expended in Ukraine came from historic stockpiles, developed when there was greater cooperation between Russia and Ukraine.

‘The integration of their industrial complexes meant a severing of relations would jeopardise Russia’s ability to sustain military operations. Now they’re running out.’

In the Soviet Union era, Ukraine produced 30 per cent of the Union’s weaponry and military equipment.

Weapons sales continued after the Cold War. In 2012 Ukraine was the world’s fourth largest arms exporter and the Commonwealth of Independent States – as the Soviet Union became – was among its biggest customers.

But after Russia invaded Crimea in 2014 and began the conflict in the Donbas region – aided with Ukrainian equipment – Kyiv drastically reduced supplies to its neighbour.

Ukraine’s revenues from arms exports plummeted from £1billion in 2012 to £100million in 2020.According to UK sources, Russia faces drastic shortages of ‘helicopter, ship, fighter jet and cruise missile parts’.

Its cruise missiles were manufactured in Ukraine’s second biggest city Kharkiv, which has been bombarded by Russian artillery and aircraft.

The state-run instrument-making plant at Izyum also made essential components for Russia’s T-72 range of tanks.

The war is also expected to curtail Russia’s nuclear programme as half of the components for its ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles were sourced in Ukraine.

UK intelligence reports have also indicated Russia’s generals have pushed back against Kremlin attempts to deploy thousands more troops to Ukraine, rejecting them as ‘not fit for purpose’.

On the ground, a Ukrainian solider in Hostomel said of the Russians: ‘They left like cowardly rabbits, almost without a fight. I think soon we will totally kick them out beyond the border.’

The nearby town of Bucha was also reportedly liberated, leaving Russia’s plans to encircle Kyiv in tatters following Ukraine’s victory at Irpin earlier in the week.

A Ukrainian official said: ‘The enemy has exhausted its offensive potential and needs to replenish itself and regroup.’

And the nuclear plant at Chernobyl was back in the hands of Ukrainians for the first time since the start of the invasion last night. Russian troops reportedly started to fall ill after digging trenches in the highly toxic zones – forcing them to evacuate.

Around 700 armoured vehicles around Kyiv have also headed towards Belarus.

But Ukrainian officials warned there are still ‘significant forces around Kyiv’ which could ‘still cause some damage’. They added that there is a ‘high probability’ that the retreating forces will be redeployed to the eastern Donbas region.

A US defence official said: ‘We continue to believe that this is a repositioning. We certainly haven’t seen any indications that any of these troops are going back home, or that they’re being taken away from the fight forever.’

  • Ukrainian attack helicopters destroyed an oil depot inside Russia, Moscow officials claimed yesterday. If confirmed, the attack in the western city of Belgorod would be the first of its kind by Ukrainian forces inside Russia. However, Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba refused to confirm or deny the country’s alleged involvement.

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