'Wolverines' is sprayed on knocked out Russian tanks

Ukrainian resistance fighters spray ‘Wolverines’ on knocked out Russian tanks in tribute to 1980s Patrick Swayze anti-Communist movie ‘Red Dawn’ – that shows US teenagers fighting Russian invasion

  • One tank was pictured on the E40 highway that runs west on Ukraine’s capital
  • It had ‘Wolverines’ sprayed down the side, the name of both a civilian resistance group fighting in Ukraine and of the resistance fighters in 1984’s ‘Red Dawn’ 
  • A second destroyed tank – with the same graffiti – was picture on a forest road
  • Ukrainian resistance group has named itself after the ‘Wolverines’ from the film 
  • The leader of the group spoke in early March about his band of fighters
  • The Canadian-born lawyer said his fighters were defending democracy
  • He said it was formed for over-60s who still want to fight Russian invasion
  • Named it after the ‘Wolverines’ group depicted in the 1984 ‘Red Dawn’ movie

Two knocked-out Russian tanks have been pictured with ‘Wolverines’ sprayed on the side after a Ukrainian group of civilian resistance fighters named themselves in tribute to the 1984 anti-Communist film ‘Red Dawn’.

One of the two tanks was left abandoned by Russian soldiers west of Kyiv in the middle of the E40 highway, and was part of a larger convoy that came under attack by Ukrainian artillery fire and mostly destroyed.

A second tank, this one more damaged than the first, was pictured on an unknown road running through a forest. It also had ‘Wolverines’ spray painted on it in white, this time on the turret.

The image of the first tank was shared by Ukrainian Oleg Tolmachev on Thursday, after Kyiv’s forces returned to the suburbs outside the capital following Russia’s retreat from the region, where they have suffered heavy losses.

Upon seeing the graffiti, commentators celebrated the picture as a nod to the 1984 cult classic, that centred on a group of teenagers fighting off a Soviet invasion of the United States. But it transpires that the graffiti is more than just a nod.

In early March, the leader of the ‘Wolverines’ Ukrainian resistance group spoke to online news publication Gzero. Daniel Bilak – a Canadian-born lawyer with Ukrainian heritage who moved to the country around 30 years ago – said he named the group after his childhood heroes in the 80s cult-classic ‘Red Dawn’. 

Pictured: A knocked-out Russian tank is picture with ‘Wolverines’ painted down the side, after a Ukrainian group of civilian resistance fighters named themselves in tribute to the 1984 anti-Communist film ‘Red Dawn’. This tank was found on the E40 highway that runs west on Kyiv. It was part of a convoy that came under artillery fire and mostly destroyed

A second tank, this time completely destroyed, was picture on an unkown road running through a forest. It had ‘Wolverines’ spray painted on the turret

Life imitates art: A still grab from the 1984 cult-classic ‘Red Dawn’ depicts an overturned  ‘Soviet’ armoured personnel carrier with ‘Wolverines’ painted on the front. In the film, a group of teenagers defends their Colorado town from a Soviet invasion

Gzero reported that in the weeks leading up to Vladimir Putin ordering his troops into Ukraine on February 24, the Wolverines held weekend military training sessions in the forests and fields outside of Kyiv. 

Speaking a week or so after the fighting broke out, Bilak said the Wolverines were conducting night patrols to keep order and capture Russian personnel.

He told the outlet the name of his group was a nod to his heroes from the movie, directed by John Milius-directed film and starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey. In the film, the group’s battle-cry is also ‘Wolverines!’ as they fight to defend their Colorado town from the invading Soviets.

While the film had limited success at the Box Office, it went on to become somewhat of a cult favourite in the following years, and has a wide cultural impact. The operation to capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was nicknamed ‘Operation Red Dawn’, for example.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the film has seen a resurgence, with streaming platforms reporting a 500 percent increase in its demand.

Meanwhile, as Russian invaded, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky declared Martial law, meaning all able-bodied men from the age of 18 to 60 were not allowed to leave the country as it mobilised its reserve forces. He also said that anyone who wanted a gun would be given one to fight Putin’s forces.

Bilak, who is 62, said in March that his volunteer civilian group was a way over-60s could get involved in fighting the Russians and defending their country. They have been one of many resistance groups to spring up in Ukraine which have formed a key part in the country’s resistance – and success in many regions – against Russia.

‘It’s BYOG,’ Bilak told the publication. ‘That is: Bring Your Own Gun.’ 

The group in Ukraine is a nod to the heroes of ‘Red Dawn’, directed by John Milius-directed film and starring Patrick Swayze, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson and Jennifer Grey

In the film, the battle-cry of the teenage resistance group is also ‘Wolverines!’

Pictured: ‘Soviet’ soldiers are seen outside a McDonald’s drive-tru in ‘Red Dawn’

On the invasion, he told the news outlet at the time: ‘This is a crime against humanity. Putin and his gangster friends are all going to be on trial as war criminals. 

‘Everything that I’ve worked for to build is now being threatened, and that’s worth defending. The rights, and the great democracy – the vibrant dynamic democracy that Ukrainians have built is worth fighting for.’

When asked if he was scared to fight the Russian invasion, he said: ‘I think people are just pi**ed off. I’m pi**ed off. 

‘We’ve have 300 years of living under colonial oppression in one form of another,’ he said.’And being basically denied an identity, a right to exist, our own language, by the Russians. We are fighting for every democratic country – certainly in Europe – and for democratic and European values.’

In recent days, Russia pulled all its forces back from around Kyiv after saying it would refocus its military efforts on the eastern region of Donbas.

But some analysts have suggested that the focus on the Donbas and the pledge to de-escalate may merely be an effort to put a positive spin on reality: Moscow’s ground forces have been thwarted – and have taken heavy losses – in their bid to seize the capital and other cities. 

Pictured: The first tank with ‘wolverines’ painted down the side was also captured in this drone footage, that showed a destroyed Russian convoy on the E40 highway 

Pictured: Drone footage shows around ten blackened wreckages in a closely-packed row down the middle of a three-lane highway. Another is shown off to the side. It appears they have been attacked by Ukrainian artillery fire some time ago

Pictured: Rusting wreckages amidst debris on a scorched road are shown in drone footage from Ukraine, on a highway west of the capital Kyiv

The first tank with ‘Wolverines’ sprayed down the side was also spotted in drone footage that emerged on Thursday, that showed the wreckage of an obliterated Russian convoy lying along the same stretch of the E40 highway. 

Two aerial videos showed several rusting wreckages of the tanks and other military vehicles on the road.

In the first video capturing the trail of destruction, around ten blackened wreckages of twisted metal could be seen in a closely-packed column down the middle of the three-lane highway. Another was shown off to the side.

The position of the wreckages suggested they were destroyed in a Ukrainian ambush and a well-targeted artillery strike – a tactic that has proven effective for Kyiv’s forces against Russia’s superior numbers.

The vehicles were rusted, indicating they were destroyed some time ago. Debris was scattered around the wrecks on the scorched stretch of tarmac. 

In the second drone video, more rusting vehicles were seen on the side of the highway, spaced further apart than in the first. The ‘Wolverines’ tank was shown abandoned, left parked sideways across a slip road, blocking part of the road. 

Pictured: Another rusting armoured vehicle is shown on the side of the E40 highway, a main motorway that runs into Kyiv from the west

Pictured: An armoured Russian military vehicle is shown in drone footage abandoned on the side of the E40 highway in Ukraine. It appears it has been hastily ditched by its crew as it came under attack from artillery fire

From their position, the vehicles appear to have been ditched by Russian forces coming under fire. They all also show signs of having come under aerial attack. 

It is unclear if any Russian soldiers survived the attacks. Other videos of artillery strikes on Russian armoured columns have shown crews jumping out of their vehicles, and in some cases escaping. Others have shown soldiers being killed in the strikes, unable to escape the vehicles in time.

The same E40 highway was the scene of horrific discoveries last week, when BBC investigators found 13 civilian bodies along one short stretch of the road.

Two of the bodies were of a couple who were killed in early March trying to escape the capital when they came under fire from a Russian tank crew. The man – a husband and father – was shown in other drone footage stopping his car and getting out with his hands up in a sign of surrender. The crew gunned him down anyway.

The horrific scenes from the region began to emerge as Russian forces began to pull back, allowing Ukraine’s forces and journalists back into the area for the first time in more than a month. In the nearby town of Bucha, Russian troops have been accused of carrying out war crimes – executing civilians indiscriminately.

Despite Putin’s invading forces vastly outnumbering Kyiv’s, Ukrainian troops have employed targeted strikes to great effect.

Experts have said that Moscow’s armies have left themselves open to attack by using slow-moving Soviet-era logistical tactics to move vast numbers of vehicles into and around Ukraine. 

A man pushes his bike through debris and destroyed Russian military vehicles on a street on April 6, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine 

A Ukrainian serviceman walks on an abandoned Russian army tank in Andriivka, April 5

Local residents explore a destroyed Russian tank in the small city Hostomel in Kyiv Oblast, Ukraine, April 6

A Ukrainian serviceman walks next to the wreck of a Russian tank in Stoyanka, March 27

As demonstrated by the drone footage, this has made tanks, armoured personnel carriers, trucks and other Russian hardware vulnerable to Kyiv’s more mobile units that have been able to destroy thousands of the Kremlin’s vehicles.

Military blog Oryx has been tracking Russia’s hardware losses, tallying visual confirmations from pictures and videos coming out of Ukraine.

By Oryx’s latest count, Russia has lost 2,653 items of military hardware – including tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles, armoured personnel carriers, as well as communication stations, artillery and air defence systems.

Of those, 1,392 been visually confirmed as destroyed, 38 have been damaged, 237 have been abandoned and 986 have been captured, by the blog’s count.

Given that Oryx’s figures are based on visual confirmations, this is seen as a minimum count. The true figure is believed to be far higher, with Kyiv’s defence ministry claiming more than 4,000 vehicles have been destroyed.

The ministry has also claimed that more than 19,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion began on February 24, with some estimates putting this figure over 20,000. At least six of Moscow’s generals have also been killed.

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