The Ukrainian soldier bent over an ammunition box and picked up what looked like a giant metal plug. “Russian land mine,” he said.

He walked over to another dumped crate inside a large warehouse.

“It’s a mortar,” the 39-year-old said, brandishing the lethal weapon, which was shaped like a stretched gray balloon.

The loot was part of a stockpile of ammunition found in a vast mud-covered repair yard, which Russian soldiers had apparently used as a base on the outskirts of the Ukrainian town of Izyum.

It had been left behind, along with bits of flak jackets, boots and shabby food jars – signs of a hasty Russian retreat in the face of a Ukrainian offensive to retake the city.

Latest updates on the war in Ukraine: President Zelensky accuses Russia of turning occupied areas “into toilets”

The soldier – who was called Granitsya, the call sign he said he used for the war – was part of the operation.

“They just ran away,” he said, describing the advance launched last week. “There was some small arms fire but not the big fighting that we saw in the first days or months of the invasion.”

Sky News encountered the volunteer soldier as he stood next to an abandoned Russian tank in a street leading further to Izyum.

When asked how he felt before the start of the operation to attack Russian positions in the Kharkiv region, he said: “I was not afraid because of what they did in our country. They killed our women, our children, there is no fear. It is only hatred and a desire to tear them apart.

“We are a special unit – Kraken – everyone knows us. We work to defend our country.”

Abandoned Russian Hardware

The Kraken Regiment is a relatively well-known group of military volunteers within the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Behind him, members of his unit climbed the top of the scrapped tank, making sure it was safe. The vehicle will be revamped in wartime, thus changing sides.

Granitsya took Sky News to the nearby repair yard.

Inside a huge hangar were two Russian military trucks. At least one of them had the telltale letter “Z” smeared in white paint on a door.

Russian troops used the place to repair their military vehicles, the Ukrainian soldier said.

His side seemed to have known. A giant hole in the roof marked the point where a projectile appeared to have struck the site, presumably as part of the Ukrainian offensive.

Pockmarks from shrapnel dented the walls and twisted pieces of metal littered the floor.

Faster Abandoned Russian Military Vehicles

According to Granitsya, in another part of the compound, inside a cluster of dingy, unlit makeshift rooms, were where the Russians slept and ate. “Russian, Russian, Russian,” he said, pointing to a pile of green body armor and dirty boots.

There was also a long box containing jars of what might have been pickles.

Abandoned Russian food supplies

“There is no one to fear them”

Coming back outside, he exclaimed “Russian” again, picking up the parts of a rusty gun that he believed had been mounted on a vehicle.

Granitsya had been a full-time soldier fighting in eastern Ukraine between 2017 and 2020, after the first Russian invasion in 2014.

He had decided to leave the armed forces but joined the Kraken unit on February 24 after President Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale war.

The soldier was scathing about the quality of the Russian army. “Their army is neither large nor powerful,” he said.

“It’s a big fake. They create this fake [impression of strength] scare other countries. But in reality, no one fears them.”

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