Scott Kelly and Ex-Soldier Explain How To 'Sabotage' Russian Tanks

Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has taken to Twitter to post information on how to sabotage a Russian T-72 tank.

Kelly, who served as commander of the International Space Station during his career, has been an outspoken critic of Russia's government and its invasion of Ukraine in recent months.

The former astronaut has gotten into heated Twitter arguments with Russia's space agency head Dmitry Rogozin and has previously spoken to Newsweek to discuss his relationships with Russian cosmonauts.

Soldiers on tanks
A photo shows Iraqi soldiers standing atop T-72 tanks at the Besmaya range, northeast of Baghdad, in February, 2006. The T-72 is popular and has been produced for decades. Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty

On Thursday retired U.S. army officer Mark Hertling tweeted that Kelly had been in touch with him to ask how one might "sabotage a Russian T-72"—a popular Soviet battle tank that has been in service with dozens of countries and which continues to be produced today.

Hertling told Kelly about various ways in which the tank might be damaged or rendered inoperable. Kelly, who has Russian contacts, tweeted the information in Russian in a series of posts on Thursday titled "How to Sabotage Your Russian Tank: Instructions for Beginners."

An English version was posted by Hertling. One tweet reads: "1. Pour a lot of dirt, sand, or sugar into the fuel tanks to clog the lines. 2. Drain the oil in either the engine or transmission, and it will eventually burnout either system. 3. Since the T-72 runs on a "Christie" track/suspension, it's easier to sabotage the road wheels just by not greasing them… they'll eventually lock up."

Other proposed methods include causing powder fires or clogging the tank's gun from the outside, though Hertling notes these could lead to injury.

Hertling concluded: "A final recommendation: Put a white flag on the turret, turn the gun tube to the rear and point it skyward, and drive toward Ukrainian lines. That's the universal sign among tankers to surrender."

Newsweek could not independently verify any of the information. Hertling, a former tanker, served for 37 years in the U.S. Army, retiring in 2013 as the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army. He went on combat tours in Iraq.

Throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine, destroyed tanks and other heavy military vehicles at the side of the road have become familiar images of the conflict.

Ukraine's armed forces have claimed that Russia has lost hundreds of tanks—more than 680 as of early April. Military experts have put the losses down to advanced anti-tank weapons that have been supplied to Ukraine.

This week, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense claimed that a Russian T-90 tank, described as a new model, had been destroyed by a Javelin missile system.