December 05 2022
Russia’s Special Looting Operation in Ukraine

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24th, there have been multiple cases of looting by Russian soldiers. Naturally, some questions arise. Where is it done? What is on the Russian soldier’s menu? Is there something that they will not take?

Russia's Special Looting Operation in Ukraine

Since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24th, there have been multiple cases of looting by Russian soldiers. Naturally, some questions arise. Where is it done? What is on the Russian soldier's menu? Is there something that they will not take?

Gintautas Švedas

So far, the menu has ranged from washing machines to shampoos or even radioactive instruments – pretty much anything that a Russian soldier can carry and put into their backpack.

Can we do some detective work and see what was taken?

In the following sections, we will dive deep into 7 instances of looting and answer what, where, and how Russians are performing “special looting operations”.

Case No.1: Belarussian “Amazon”

(A stop image from the CCTV camera, source:, YouTube channel: Проект MotolkoHelp: Беларускі Гаюн)

No one likes to carry groceries from a supermarket to home. Especially if everything can be delivered to your home by Amazon.

The same approach was taken by a couple of Russian soldiers in Belarus. 

On April 1  Belarusian Monitoring Group “Belaruski Gayun” reported how SDEK courier service offices in Mazyr were allegedly used to ship dozens of stolen goods. Later Meduza wrote an article on this report.

A couple of soldiers, sent far from home, are laughing and enjoying the moment. Carefully wrapping a box with tape, so relatives back home would get their package safe and sound.

If one would forget the context in which the video was taken, everything would seem normal. 

So what was found in these boxes? 

In the 3-hour long CCTV footage, we see a lot. Electric scooters, air conditioning units, bottles of alcohol, car batteries, fishing equipment. 

(An electric scooter is being wrapped, allegedly by Russian soldiers,, YouTube channel: Проект MotolkoHelp: Беларускі Гаюн)

One can only guess why someone needs fishing equipment. Maybe to relax after a hard day’s work fighting “Western evil” in Ukraine? Car batteries can be used to increase the effectiveness of fishing.

(A soldier is seen holding an alcohol bottle,, YouTube channel: Проект MotolkoHelp: Беларускі Гаюн)

Finally, you can wash your freshly caught fish with a fine glass of whiskey directly from your adversary’s country!

Case No.2: Shine bright like a radioactive diamond

(Image taken by Jorge Franganillo,

Radioactivity. The word that is mostly known in a negative light. Somehow, all of this didn’t stop the Russian soldiers. 

In order to capture Kiyv, home to around 3 million people, Russian forces needed to go through Pripyat, a town where the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is located.

Chernobyl, together with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, share the same maximum severity rating on the International Nuclear Event scale. 

In the same town, a Ukrainian “Ecocenter” nuclear lab exists. The lab’s activity consists of radiation and dosimetric control, water protection activities, scientific and research work.

Naturally, it has different kinds of scientific equipment, including radioactive samples. 

Precisely these “souvenirs” caught the eye of Russian morodiers, as VOA reported. The director of the agency, Evgen Kramarenko, told VOA that among other things, like computer servers, memory units, and machine parts that were taken from his lab, there were radioactive samples. 

Most notably, radioactive instruments, used for calibrating dosimeters – specific instruments used to measure ionising radiation.

Just let that word sink in. Radioactive. It means that the object is actively emitting radiation, damaging the cells of the person who carries it. 

“If a person comes into direct contact with them, these kinds of instruments could cause radiation burns to the skin in as little as two minutes”, said Siarhei Besarab, a science journalist from Belarus. 

Well, one can only hope that these souvenirs will be passed through as many curious hands as possible.

Case No.3: A trip to the supermarket

(Translated from Ukrainian: “The interception of SBU: looting for the Russian occupiers became like a trip to the supermarket,”, source:

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has released an intercepted call between a Russian soldier and his wife. In an almost 3 minute call, a man named Andrey talks with his wife about his experiences in Ukraine.

“I took some cosmetics”, says the soldier and gets immediately praised by his wife. 

“You are my sweetie, my sunshine <…> This will be greetings from Ukraine. What kind of russian would you be if you didn’t take anything?”, tells the wife of the soldier.

Makes one wonder.

The call ends with the woman being sad about all the things her husband did not manage to steal. 

“Take, take everything! You should have taken a beautiful sports suit for me.”

Case No.4: Occupier’s “greatest treasure”

The Kharkiv region was liberated from the Russian forces at the beginning of September. After that, people started returning to their homes, and businesses started to reopen. Life started coming back to “the new normal.”

Yet, many people found surprises after the Russians left.

A good example is a private Ukrainian postal and courier service called “Nova Poshta.”

On their return to the premises, workers found an unusual object missing. Crew tweeted a sarcastic message about the incident: 

“We returned to the liberated cities of the Kharkiv region and saw this in one of our branches. Who would have guessed what the greatest treasure is to an occupier?”.

In a picture added to a tweet, there was a bathroom with a ripped toilet bowl. True catch for the running Russian troops.

Case No.5: There’s no time for lunch

When you are a Russian soldier and you are hungry, you steal food. A pig, for example. But you are a soldier. Sometimes you have no time for a bacon fest. So what do you do? Leave the pig that you have stolen? No! 

You tie your lunch to a tank and wait for the right moment. Sadly, sometimes that moment never comes. 

Andriy Biletsky, the first commander of the “Azov” battalion, the same battalion that defended Mariupol, which fell on May 20th, described the scene like this:

“The work of the first battalion of the SSO ‘AZOV’. South of Ukraine. It is especially “skillful” that the Russian degenerates-liberators stole a pig in a Ukrainian village and tied it to a BMP-3. But they didn’t make it to lunch.”

The moral of the story is that a stolen pig is not always tasty. Or if you steal a pig, make sure you make it for lunch.

Case No.6: Solar power is not the future

(Stop image taken from video and increased in quality, source:

“I have not seen this before. I haven’t seen it yet”. 

That’s how a video started. The man in the video shows knocked-down lighting poles and a road, allegedly somewhere in the Izyum region. There are open pole boxes where the batteries should be. It seems that the solar panels are missing as well, on the top part.

According to the man, the “multimillion” scheme was done like this:

  1. A Russian tank rams into one of the poles.
  2. Pole falls.

The man pointed out that among “classical” items such as washing machines and toilets, stolen by the Russian army, solar batteries were not expected to be a “hit”. 

“ We saw toilets, washing machines stolen, but solar panels and accumulators – that we haven’t seen before”.

Cases are closed

(A timeline of looting instances mentioned in this article)

As we can see, there is nothing that a Russian soldier won’t steal. Size, colour, weight, usability – nothing makes a difference. 

Can I use it by myself? Perhaps my family can use it? Will I be able to sell it? These are the questions asked when looking at the menu of the Ukrainian restaurant. 

The restaurant has a wide variety of items to choose from. Electric scooters, toilets, alcohol, or even solar panels. 

Even a gourmet Russian soldier will not be disappointed. 

Any future predictions?

As the season changes, so will the menu. What does one need during the winter? Perhaps mountain skis? Dublionkas (sheepskin coats)? Scarfs?

Only a Russian soldier can answer.

This article is part of the International Journalism Lab initiated by Media4Change. The laboratory is part of the project “Digital MIL Lab in Youth Work”. The project is financed under the Erasmus+ program of the European Union.

The authors of the project articles do not coordinate the topics and content of the articles with the sponsors of the project.