According to a Ukrainian businessman in the region, Russian forces in the captured city of Melitopol took all the equipment from a farm equipment store and transferred it to Chechnya.
The thieves, however, were unable to utilise any of the equipment after travelling over 700 miles because it had been electronically secured.
Beyond extensive theft of households, there have been an increasing number of stories in recent weeks of Russian forces taking farm equipment, grain, and even building supplies. However, the theft of significant agricultural equipment from a John Deere outlet in Melitopol indicates that the robbery is becoming more coordinated, with Russian military transport being used as part of the crime.
The equipment was taken from an Agrotek store in Melitopol, which has been controlled by Russian military since early March, according to CNN. It’s worth roughly $5 million in all. Each of the combine harvesters is worth $300,000.
For their own safety, CNN is not naming a Melitopol source acquainted with the case’s circumstances.
Morda Vasyl, a Ukrainian farmer, climbs into the cab of a John Deere tractor.
The procedure began with the confiscation of two combine harvesters, a tractor, and a seeder, according to the source. Everything else was taken during the next three weeks, totaling 27 items of farm machinery. One of the flat-bed vehicles utilised, which was recorded on video, was painted with a white “Z” and seemed to be a military truck.
According to the source, there were two groups of Russian troops: one arriving in the morning and the other arriving in the evening.
Some of the apparatus was carried to a nearby settlement, but others were transported overland to Chechnya, which is nearly 700 kilometres distant. Because of the complexity of the machinery, which is fitted with GPS, its whereabouts could be traced. It was last seen in the Chechen town of Zakhan Yurt.
The combine harvesters that were sent to Chechnya may also be controlled remotely. “When the invaders arrived in Chechnya with the stolen harvesters, they discovered they couldn’t even switch them on since they were locked remotely,” the source added.
The machinery currently looks to be stranded on a farm near Grozny. “It appears like the hijackers have found advisers in Russia,” the source stated.