With the Ukrainian counteroffensive anticipated to begin any moment, the drones deployed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are giving a tough time to Russian ground equipment, including its cutting-edge T-90S Main Battle Tanks (MBTs).
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) recently reported about a spate of combat successes achieved by the fighters from the White Wolf Special Operations Center A unit, popularly known as the ‘Alpha.’
Alpha released the video footage on Telegram in late April.
In the video, which has been accessed by EurAsian Times, a Russian T-90S MBT could be seen stuck in what appears to be a pit of mud. The pixelated footage, which seems to have been recorded by a Ukrainian drone equipped with a thermal optic system, is black and white.
Despite not being high resolution, it shows the moment a munition is dropped on the stuck T-90S MBT from the drone, causing a massive explosion.
Destruction of A Russian T-90S Tank, reportedly by the Ukrainian elite Spetsnaz Group "Alpha" using munitions dropped from a drone equipped with Thermal Optics.#Ukraine #Russia #T90 #Tank #drone pic.twitter.com/MFJYbzXwJ3
— EurAsian Times (@THEEURASIATIMES) May 1, 2023
Later, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPLI), Rob Lee, who diligently tracks the ongoing war, posted a compilation of several clips of Ukrainian UAVs dropping munitions on Russian equipment on April 29.
Lee tweeted: “Video of UAVs from Ukrainian SBU Alpha dropping munitions on Russian vehicles and positions. They say they destroyed four T-72 and T-90 tanks, nine BMPs, a BTR, MT-LB, Ural truck, and three strong points.”
Although the above list of equipment allegedly destroyed by Ukrainian UAV attacks spells a significant loss for the Russians, the loss of the T-90S is particularly noteworthy. The T-90S is a costly export version of the T-90 MBT, which was reportedly inducted into service due to the massive tank losses incurred by Moscow.
However, a retired Indian Army tankman, Colonel Rajendra Bhaduri (retd), previously told EurAsian Times that most of the footage where Ukrainian UAVs drop explosives on T-90S tanks are of attacks on abandoned tanks. Bhaduri pointed out the multiple videos taken from modified drones used by Ukraine dropping explosives on Russian tanks as staged.
“Most videos of quadcopters dropping bombs on tanks are when tanks are abandoned,” Bhaduri said. He concludes this because the hatches are open, and no crew is seen escaping when an explosive falls in.
“Which crew would ride around in their tank with the hatches open during combat? It is an elementary mistake even a newly inducted crew will not make,” he said.
The cost of one T-90S tank is reportedly pegged at US$2.5 million. So, when the video of its destruction went viral on social media, netizens mocked it by saying, “Wonder who this tank was meant for.”
Moreover, the report comes at a time when Ukraine has significantly upped using drones to attack Russian targets. In fact, on the day the SBU released the footage, the Ukrainians were accused of setting ablaze a Russian fuel storage facility in the Crimean port of Sevastopol.
The governor of Sevastopol, Mikhail Razvozhayev, stated on Telegram that only one drone could access the oil reservoir. He said a second drone had been shot down, and its wreckage had been found close to the terminal. In response to this drone attack, Russia unleashed a massive barrage of missiles against Ukraine, and several Ukrainian UAVs were also subsequently shot down.
Meanwhile, UK’s regular intelligence update has revealed that Russia has carried out fortifications “not seen” in decades. This was revealed on May 1 by the UK Military’s regular intelligence update.
Bracing For A Counteroffensive?
According to the intelligence update published by the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Russian military has constructed some of the most extensive defense military works seen anywhere in the world in decades. These defenses, built since May 2022, exist not just on the war front but also in areas entirely under Russian control.
The intelligence document further states, “Imagery shows that Russia has made a particular effort to fortify the northern border of occupied Crimea, including the multilayered defensive zone near the village of Medvedivka. Russia has also dug hundreds of miles of trenches well inside internationally recognized Russian territory, including in the Belogorod and Kursk regions.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 01 May 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/Wu1lvnsXTe
— Ministry of Defence ?? (@DefenceHQ) May 1, 2023
The document then highlights that these fortifications testify to Russia’s “deep concern” that Ukraine could achieve a significant breakthrough.
However, the assessment also notes that local commanders and officials have carried out some of this defensive work to further the narrative that Russia feels threatened by Ukraine and NATO.
The British intelligence update is significant for several reasons, including its timing. Reports in the media suggest that Moscow has been conducting extensive fortification work on the frontlines and in Crimea as it anticipates a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Defensive trenches near Ukraine’s Polohy visible in satellite imagery are part of a vast network of Russian fortifications sweeping down from western Russia through eastern Ukraine and on to Crimea built in readiness for a major Ukrainian attack https://t.co/jpGSTqsShz pic.twitter.com/lUzIh4oIB8
— Reuters (@Reuters) April 27, 2023
According to the satellite imagery obtained by the media last month, Russia had widely fortified Crimea, seized in 2014. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has continued to assert that Crimea belongs to Ukraine and would be duly brought back.
The satellite imagery analyzed by Radio Free Europe revealed that Russian troops had erected fortifications and dragon’s teeth (wedge-shaped concrete anti-tank barriers laid in multiple rows) in Northern Crimea. In addition, several areas of Crimea were reinforced this year between January and March. Trenches have been built in several parts of the Crimean territory.
According to Brady Africk, an open-source intelligence researcher and analyst at the American Enterprise Institute cited by Reuters, new trenches, anti-vehicle barriers, and revetments for equipment and material have appeared from the Russian city of Voronok down through eastern Ukraine and southwest to the Crimean Peninsula.
Not much was gained during Russia’s winter offensive. Experts believe that as Ukraine readies to launch a massive counteroffensive with its new Western military equipment, Russia is preparing to avert letting the enemy make significant gains.
On its part, Russia has already stepped up attacks, launching another pre-dawn attack in as many days — killing several civilians and overwhelming Ukrainian air defenses.
The preparations for the counteroffensive are believed to be underway in Ukraine, with both sides appearing to brace themselves for the unknown.
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