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A T-54 tank, similar to the one taken from the museum by pro-Russian rebels

Ukrainian rebels steal World War II tank from local museum

As conflict in eastern Ukraine escalates, it looks like armed rebels are turning to vintage-era weapons

What happens if you run out of weapons to fight with? If you're a Ukrainian separatist, you just walk calmly into your local history museum and try to jack some equipment.

Last week, armed men entered a museum in Donetsk and made off with a tank and two pieces of heavy artillery. Speaking to AFP, an anonymous guard said: "They had written authorisation to take them away. They took the tank that was least damaged – I think they're going to use them to fight."

The guard said the pro-Russian rebels used heavy lifting gear to winch the tank and the two howitzers into a large truck and drove away with them.

"We have got an engine to go in it," an armed man told a local journalist at the scene. "We have got some experts. We have to add the engine, ease the turret and it will be a working battle tank.”

It's unclear what condition the weaponry will be in, given that the tank and the artillery are relics from the Second World War, but this isn't the first time that pro-Russian rebels have tried to commandeer old military gear to fight their cause. 

The video below shows a group of separatists trying to fire up a WWII-era tank in Kostyantynivka, a city in eastern Ukraine. Whether they managed to make the vehicle battle-ready is unclear from the video, but it demonstrates just how desperate the situation in eastern Ukraine is.

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