Why British used cars end up on the front line in Ukraine | Ukraine

From Mykolaiv to Kyiv and Kharkiv, there are used cars, vans and minivans that were bought in Britain and still carry the familiar UK number plates on the front lines of the war in Ukraine.

The paradoxical scene is credited to the Box of Fighters created by Serhiy Pritola, 40, the Ukrainian actor and comedian, who made his name with a “Little Britain”-style sketch. Faina Yukrina (Ukraine is nice) but now serves as an alternative resource for the Ukrainian armed forces.

British cars are attractively priced, about half as expensive as their continental European equivalent, as right-hand cars are not in demand internationally, according to Britola, speaking in his office at his Kyiv headquarters, a six-story office building that was taken over for purposes of serving as a fundraising and distribution center .

It is estimated that he currently receives around £7 million a month in donations for the storage and distribution of military equipment, ranging from flak jackets and thermal telescopes to binoculars, drones, medical supplies and generators.

Used British cars are transported to the front lines of the war in Ukraine.
Car trips to the battlefront are known as “hell rides.” Photo: charity

With a portion of that money, British cars are bought from both used dealerships and individuals in the UK who will offer them at a discount, sometimes accepting cryptocurrency as payment, before transporting them across the canal and driving them to Ukraine in the back of trucks – a five-six-day journey. Then they are deployed to the front line where the Ukrainian forces need them most.

Twenty British cars have been sent so far – volunteers in Kyiv called the vehicles “hell rides” – and another 20 are in the process of being purchased. The Volunteer Center in Bertola passed on 60 vehicles from all over Europe to the armed forces.

In Peretola’s office, there are fragments of a Russian plane and bloodstained weapons and military clothing, including masks and gloves taken from Russian soldiers killed on the battlefield. He described the shocking group as “reactions” to the value of cars.

He said: “It really helped us because our units are creating mobile groups. And behind you you can see a piece of a Russian Su-34. This is exactly a gift from our soldiers. We are helping them with a pickup and he destroyed this Russian plane and that was a reaction for us.”

Used British cars are transported to the front lines of the war in Ukraine.
British cars were also used when Russian forces first invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014. Photo: charity

“The first thing they brought here was a piece of a dirty Russian plane and a piece of a Russian Kalibr missile and then I made a post on Facebook and said you can bring whatever you want here,” but no dead Russians here. “The next day they brought clothes, a radio transmitter, and a hat from a Russian tank driver, and after that they started sending whatever they found on the corpses.”

Maxim Kossetsky, who has been managing car purchases from the UK, said demand from Ukrainian units was three times the level of supply, with units looking for cars, vans and SUVs.

He said: The waiting list is long. But we very much hope to have partners in the UK who will supply and supply cars at lower prices.

“Especially for vans and mostly used vehicles. Yes, these SUVs are usually £4,000 or £5,000 each. Usually in Europe, people don’t buy them because they have the right hand drive, but during this time in times of war and in the field This is a great time to buy it.”

British cars were also used when Russian forces first invaded eastern Ukraine in 2014. “A lot of Ukrainian soldiers know how to drive this car with the steering wheel on the other side,” Bertola said.

When cars are officially seized by the Ukrainian army, their number plates will be blacked out. But in the early weeks of the war this rarely happened, with priority given to operating the cars rather than dealing with paperwork.

Kostetskyi said: “We have partners out there who want to help Ukrainians and they want to support us all in the way they can. We think this is one of the biggest ways we can support the community and the people in the UK because buying the same cars in other EU countries costs twice as much.”