Corruption in Russian army: commander Colonel Alexander Denisov arrested for selling tank engines to Turkey

An officer in the Russian Armed Forces was recently arrested for allegedly stealing engines from Moscow’s T-90 main battle tanks and selling them for profit on the black market.

Colonel Alexander Denisov has been accused of stealing seven V-92S2 engines meant for Russia’s T-90 tank stocks to a buyer based in Ankara, according to the Russian newspaper, The Kommersant.

The Telegraph’s James Kilner picked up the story and translated the details into English, noting that Colonel Denisov was selling the engines between November 2021 and April 2022. 

Each engine is worth around $200,000 dollars according to Kilner, which would mean Colonel Denisov could have made upwards of $1.4 million if he sold all seven he allegedly stole. 

Kilner noted that the colonel was the commander in charge of “technical tank support” in Russia’s Southern Military District, which explains how Denisov got access to the engines.

Denisov was arrested in March at Rostov and was later charged with “stealing parts intended to be installed on tanks” according to a translation from The Telegraph. 

This latest news of systemic corruption in the Russian military comes after more than a year of reports showing how bad things have been in Russia’s stockyards and warehouses. 

The first reports of Russian corruption affecting the war in Ukraine came shortly after the invasion began. Columns of combat vehicles were stopped for days due to a lack of fuel which some reports said was because troops had sold it in Belarus according to the Kyiv Post. 

In October, The Guardian reported on the lack of basic equipment available for soldiers mobilized in Russia’s first big push for more troops, the reason being mass corruption.

“I am not at all surprised to see the mess that the army is in,” Gleb Irisov, a former air force lieutenant in the Russian military explained to the Guardian’s Pjotr Sauer at the time. 

“The army has always been deeply corrupt, and those issues were never properly addressed. They didn’t spend any money on the personnel while our seniors were becoming rich,“ Irisov added. But just how corrupt is the Russian military system?

In October, BBC News Russian published a report on the corruption in Russia’s Armed Forces which showed that over the previous eight years, there were 558 sentences issued by military courts for the theft of army clothing, a situation far worse for other equipment.

Over the last eight years, there had been 12,000 convictions for fraud, with 2019 and 2018 being particularly bad years, as well as over 700 embezzlement convictions of contract servicemen that included both regular soldiers and their commanders.

However, corruption extends past the theft of military property. It’s present at everything at every level of Russia’s command structure and decision making according to retired U.S. General Ben Hodges. 

“These are the kinds of things that are the result of either total incompetence or corruption,” General Hodges said in August, “false reporting, people signing off on things that actually don’t meet standards, and of course the individual Russian soldier.”

How the corruption problem in the Russian military will continue to affect the war in Ukraine has yet to be seen. But it is clear Russia’s corruption problem has probably helped Ukrainian forces as they’ve fought to defend their country from their neighbor. 

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