In the latest blow to Moscow’s war effort, it has been revealed that Putin is now relying on the more than 60-year-old T-62 main battle tank after Ukraine destroyed many newer models. Ukraine’s General Staff said that six Russian tanks have been destroyed in just the last 24-hours.
The UA General Staff also claimed in a Facebook post that Putin’s troops have resorted to using damaged equipment to supplement its forces.
It said: “As a result of combat losses, the enemy is forced to remove T-62 tanks from storage to equip backup battalion tactical groups, formed to send to Ukraine. In addition, damaged and recovered equipment is used to make up for the losses of arms and military equipment.”
“Over the past 24-hours, 11 enemy attacks have been repelled in the Donetsk and Luhansk directions, six tanks destroyed [as well as] ten units of combat armoured equipment and six units of [the] enemy’s vehicle equipment.”
It also claimed that air defence units had shot down one Orlan-10 drone and a Su-25 fighter plane.
When the war began, on paper, the Russian military possessed an immense amount of armoured vehicles however these numbers were likely inflated by the amount of old Soviet tanks sitting in storage.
Russia does possess some advanced tanks but these are less likely to be seen on the battlefield. For example, Russia’s T-90M, often seen during military parades, has rarely been seen in combat.
Even the mighty T-90M has proved no match for Ukrainian tactics – a video emerged earlier this month showed one of Russia’s elite tanks destroyed by Ukraine.
Ukraine’s General Staff estimates that 1,293 Russian tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine. It is unclear how many of these are advanced Russian tanks, but according to Ukraine General staff, they are running out of newer models.
The T-62 was first released in 1961, and although it has been upgraded since then, it is not likely to fare any better than modern Russian equipment has throughout the war.
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Speaking to The New Yorker, retired US Army Colonel Joel Rayburn said that some of the newer tank models may have been geared more towards export, explaining the lack of modern Russian military equipment on the battlefield.
He said: “The Russians are exporting T-90 tanks and marketing Armata tanks, supposedly the latest generation with all the bells and whistles.
“And then they’re showing up on the battlefield in the axis of advance toward Kharkiv and Chernihiv and Kyiv with Cold War-era, non-modernized, armoured combat vehicles – both infantry vehicles and tanks. And it’s like they took these things out of mothballs.
“So it seems that Russia’s military industry was geared toward export instead of equipping its own ground forces with modern equipment.”
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This assessment has only got worse for the Russian Army as it has suffered catastrophic losses of its most modern military equipment facing down a mobile, well trained and better equipped Ukrainian Army.
One thing Russia does have, however, is numbers. Before the invasion, Russia was estimated to have 20,050 tanks although it is unclear how many of these are operational.
This number dwarfs Ukraine’s estimated 2,045 tanks before the war. However, tanks have proven themselves somewhat obsolete during the war with small handheld anti-tank missiles and light drones destroying them in scores.
As Putin reaches into his reserves, the destruction of Russian tanks on the battlefield is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.