That Time The Russian Military Stole A Bunch Of US Marine Corps Humvees

In this Aug. 19, 2008 file photo, Russian soldiers in a armored personnel carrier tow away a US-built Humvee left behind after a joint Georgian, US military exercise in the Black Sea port city of Poti, western Georgia.
Associated Press/Bela Szandelszky

Call it Grand Theft Auto: Abkhazia

Following the military invasion of Georgia in August 2008 to “liberate” the self-proclaimed independent republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Russian forces turned up an unexpected prize: five U.S. Marine Corps Humvees.

The Humvees, belonging to the 6th Communications Battalion detachment of the 4th Marine Logistics Group’s Military Police Company, were seized along with what the Washington Times described as “sensitive communications and electronics equipment” from a shipping container in the critical Black Sea port of Poti, where they were awaiting transport back to the United States following a joint U.S.-Georgian military exercise the previous month that, apparently, did little to deter the looming invasion.

Russian soldiers drive U.S.-built Humvees in Senaki, western Georgia, Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2008.

Here’s how the seizure went down, according to a contemporary account in The Independent:

In Poti, on the Black Sea, Russian forces blocked access to the naval and commercial ports this morning and towed the missile boat Dioskuria, one of the navy's most sophisticated vessels, out of sight of observers. A loud explosion was heard minutes later.

Several hours later, an Associated Press photographer saw Russian trucks and armored personnel carriers leaving the port with about 20 blindfolded and handcuffed men riding on them. Port spokesman Eduard Mashevoriani said the men were Georgian soldiers.

Five Humvees may seem like no big deal: Then-Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James T. Conway stated that the Humvees included four “conventional vehicles” and one up-armored variant, while U.S. European Command spokesman Navy Lt. Corey Barker told Marine Corps TImes at the time that the vehicles contained “no advanced tracking technology or cryptology hardware.” (Anatoly Nogovitsyn, Russia’s deputy chief of the staff at the time, told Russia Today that the military had found “a lot of interesting stuff” in the vehicles.)

But dammit, we wanted our Humvees back! “I think we’re going to send the Russians a bill and tell them, you know, either pay up or give us back our vehicles, guys,” Conway said at the time. “You know, that’s not the way we do business.”

Eventually, we forgot about those stolen Humvees. Barack Obama won election to the presidency a few months after the 2008 invasion of Georgia and sought a reset with the Russian government; by 2010, as the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty started working its way through the Senate, lawmakers slapped down a measure that would require the return of “all military equipment owned by the United States that was confiscated” during the invasion.

So what happened to those Humvees? According to an Associated Press report from that time, Nogovitsyn said that Russia considered the Humvees “war trophies” and “thus has no obligation to give them back.” All of which is to say that the U.S. and Georgian forces currently participating in the NATO-led Noble Partner multinational training operation may want to invest in a Club or two. Y’know, just in case.


CAMP PENDLETON — The military prosecution of a Coast Guardsman accused of murder began Wednesday with a preliminary hearing at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.

Seaman Ethan W. Tucker, 21, was arrested August 28 after a seven-month Coast Guard investigation into the January death of Seaman Ethan Kelch, 19, who served on the same ship as Tucker— the Kodiak, Alaska-based high endurance cutter Douglas Munro.

Read More Show Less

ANKARA (Reuters) - President Tayyip Erdogan said on Saturday Turkey would press on with its offensive into northeastern Syria and "crush the heads of terrorists" if a deal with Washington on the withdrawal of Kurdish fighters from the area were not fully implemented.

Erdogan agreed on Thursday in talks with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence a five-day pause in the offensive to allow time for the Kurdish fighters to withdraw from a "safe zone" Turkey aims to establish in northeast Syria near the Turkish border.

Read More Show Less

President Trump stoked confusion Friday by declaring the U.S. has "secured the Oil" in the Middle East amid continued fallout from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria that he enabled by pulling American troops out of the region.

It wasn't immediately clear what the president was talking about, as there were no publicly known developments in Syria or elsewhere in the Middle East relating to oil. White House aides did not return requests for comment.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.

The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley's office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.

Read More Show Less

BYESVILLE — A Meadowbrook High School student removed from class last Friday for being intoxicated is now facing a felony charge after allegedly threatening to shoot people if the previous incident harmed his chances to join a branch of the United States military.

Gabriel D. Blackledge, 18, of Cambridge, is facing one count of making terrorist threats, a third-degree felony, filed by the Guernsey County Sheriff's Office on Thursday. Blackledge remained incarcerated in the county jail on a $250,000 bond with no 10 percent allowed, according to the sheriff's office's website.

Read More Show Less