Russian troops to get bonuses for destroying western tanks

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(Reuters) - Russian troops who have destroyed German-made Leopard tanks and U.S.-supplied armoured vehicles being used by Ukraine will receive bonus payments, the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

The ministry said this was part of a wider reward scheme under which more than 10,000 Russian servicemen had received individual bonuses since the start of the war nearly 16 months ago.

On the basis of reports from Russian field commanders, "payments are currently being made to servicemen of the Russian Federation Armed Forces who in the course of military operations destroyed Leopard tanks, as well as armoured fighting vehicles made in the USA and other NATO countries", the ministry said.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday awarded the "Hero of Russia gold star" medal to soldiers who Moscow said had destroyed Leopard tanks and U.S.-made Bradley fighting vehicles being used by Ukraine, which has launched a long-anticipated counteroffensive.

The ministry said that up to May 31, a total of 10,257 servicemen had been rewarded for destroying 16,001 items of Ukrainian and Western military equipment.

An enemy armoured vehicle was worth 50,000 roubles ($596) and a tank 100,000 roubles, it said.

Military pilots and air defence operators received 300,000 roubles for every destroyed Ukrainian plane or helicopter. Hits on Tochka-U and U.S.-supplied HIMARS rocket launch systems were rewarded by the same amount.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)