Russia's Theft of Tractors Hits a Major Snag

John Deere equipment taken from Ukraine is remotely disabled
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2022 10:00 AM CDT
Russia's Theft of Tractors Hits a Major Snag
A file photo of John Deere equipment.   (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

(Newser) – It's like those stories about carjackers who fail because they can't drive a stick. In Ukraine, CNN reports that Russian troops stole brand-new tractors and other farming machinery—only to discover they can't turn them on because they've been disabled remotely. The outlet reports that Russian soldiers loaded up about $5 million worth of John Deere equipment onto trucks from a dealership in the Ukraine city of Melitopol. Some of the machinery was tracked via GPS to Chechnya, where it sits unused. "When the invaders drove the stolen harvesters to Chechnya, they realized that they could not even turn them on, because the harvesters were locked remotely," says a source CNN is allowing to remain anonymous.

It's possible the thieves will be able to hack the system to use the equipment, which might be helpful given that John Deere has stopped shipments to Russia in the wake of the invasion. Failing that, the Russians could at least sell the equipment for parts. Still, the incident is providing at least a small measure of satisfaction to Ukrainians. Meanwhile, Vice reports on a different farming-related trend in Ukraine: Images of tractors hauling away Russian military equipment have gone viral on social media as symbols of defiance, even making their way onto T-shirts. (Russian tanks have a design flaw that leave them vulnerable to attacks.)

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