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24 Feb, 2024 12:52

WATCH: Russian troops inspect abandoned NATO weapons in Avdeevka

Starlink terminals used to operate Ukrainian drones were also found, the Defense Ministry has said

Russian troops have captured NATO-made weapons and ammunition, as well as Starlink satellite terminals at the Avdeevka chemical plant, according to a new video released by the Defense Ministry on Saturday.

Officials in Moscow said the abandoned hardware was found by Russian assault groups that entered the Avdeevka Coke and Chemical plant, the largest facility of its kind in Europe, which became the linchpin of Ukraine’s offensives in the area after the conflict erupted in February 2022.

The ministry said that while inspecting the plant’s workshops, Russian assault teams discovered abandoned drone control stations with Starlink terminals, dozens of NATO-made anti-tank grenade launchers, ammunition, hand grenades, automatic weapons, and dry rations.

”All this was left behind by Ukrainian soldiers as they fled the plant in panic under the onslaught of Russian troops,” the statement said.

The video shared by the ministry shows Russian soldiers walking on the premises of the heavily damaged chemical plant. Another clip features one service member examining a box of communications equipment, including a relay station.

The video also shows a crate stuffed with frag shells for a grenade launcher and a metal container filled with 12.7 machine gun rounds with an inscription reading ‘Ministero della Difesa’, an apparent reference to their Italian origin.

Ukraine has been using Starlink internet terminals made by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company since early on in the conflict, both for civilian and military purposes, including to maintain communications between units and to direct drones and artillery fire.

However, in September, Musk sparked anger in Kiev after he refused its request to use Starlink to facilitate a raid on the Russian fleet in the Crimean Peninsula, explaining that he did not want SpaceX to be “complicit in a major act of war and conflict escalation.”

The Russian military captured both Avdeevka and the chemical plant in the northern part of the city last weekend. Moscow said the retreat turned into a disorganized rout, during which more than 1,500 Ukrainian troops were killed.

Avdeevka, which was under Ukrainian control since 2014, was often used by Kiev to shell the city of Donetsk 10km away, resulting in numerous civilian casualties. The Donetsk People’s Republic, along with three other former Ukrainian territories, voted to become part of Russia in 2022.