Ukraine’s army now possesses more tanks than it had when the battle with Russia began a month ago, while Russia’s military has lost hundreds of armored vehicles, open-source intelligence analysts claim.
Since Russia launched what it called “special military operations” on February 24, Kyiv has lost at least 74 tanks, either destroyed or seized by Moscow’s troops.
Open-source intelligence experts, based on photographs and videos circulating on social media, also claim that Ukraine has captured at least 117 Russian tanks. To put it another way, the Ukrainian army had around 2,550 tanks (including light tanks and main battle tanks) before the war. After its battle gains, they have now 2593 tanks, 43 more than the original count.
Meanwhile, the Russians have apparently seized at least 37 Ukrainian tanks against their estimated loss of 530 tanks due to various causes. The EurAsian Times could not independently verify these claims.
Forbes: Ukrainian army now has 43 more tanks than at the beginning of the war
According to analysts, since the beginning of the war, #Russian army has lost 530 tanks, while the Armed Forces of #Ukraine have lost 74 of their own, but captured 117 enemy tanks. pic.twitter.com/RTlMc8mryf
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 24, 2022
Disruptions in the supply line meant that the Russian troops ran out of gas, forcing them to abandon many of their tanks and armored vehicles in different parts of Ukraine. There were videos circulating on social media showing Ukrainian farmers towing these abandoned Russian vehicles. This has apparently become a symbol of Kyiv’s resistance.
However, the question remains whether Ukrainian forces will be able to operate these tanks. There are some Soviet-era tanks, such as T-64, which are still used by Ukraine, but not Russia. However, both countries use T-72 and T-80.
The T-80 is an upgrade of the T-64. The T-72 is a simpler, less expensive tank that is appropriate for mass manufacture and tactical assistance. Ukraine’s T-72s are often assigned to reserve forces.
Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly begun employing Russian tanks, according to videos posted on social media. A seized Russian T-80BVM tank can be seen in service with Ukraine in one such video.
Besides, Kyiv still appears to be in need of more tanks for its soldiers. Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded with NATO leaders to send tanks to his war-torn country so that forces could resist Russian invaders.
“You have thousands of fighter jets but we haven’t been given any yet,” he said. “We asked for tanks so that we can unblock our cities that are now dying – Mariupol, Berdyansk, Melitopol, others – cities where Russia is keeping hundreds of thousands of people hostage and artificially creating famine; no water, no food, nothing there.
“You have at least 20,000 tanks; Ukraine asked for a percent – one percent of all your tanks to be given or sold to us – but we do not have a clear answer yet.”
Threats To Russian Tanks
Hundreds of tanks, combat machines, artillery and air-defense systems are being steadily captured or destroyed by Ukrainian forces, underscoring the difficulty Russia faces in attaining any of its strategic priorities in Ukraine, some analysts claim.
Tanks are being struck by low-flying drones. Ukrainian soldiers have ambushed tanks with a new generation of Javelin anti-tank missiles with fire and forget capabilities.
The Javelin has a setting that allows it to target the uppermost part of the tank, its weakest part. Since the outbreak of the war, Ukraine has been training its reservists to use these weapons.
Additionally, Ukraine has received the NLAW, or Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapon, built by Britain and Sweden. An operator balances it on a shoulder and fires after tracking a target within half a mile for a few seconds. The fire-and-forget guidance mechanism of the missile takes control.
“NLAW can attack from almost any position, from up high in a building to behind a tree or in a ditch,” weapons manufacturer SAAB said on its website. “You can fire down 45 degrees and can shoot from inside a building, from a basement or from the second floor of a building out of the range of most tanks.”
Drones have also proven to be quite useful in combat in Ukraine. They can loiter near armored vehicles and launch guided missiles at them, as the Turkish TB2 has often demonstrated, or identify their positions to relay artillery fire.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration is reportedly transferring 100 Switchblade drones to Ukraine, which are single-use airborne vehicles that can knock out armored vehicles by crashing into them and detonating.
Moving through marshy and muddy plain is yet another problem that has slowed Russian tanks’ progress considerably. During the early stages of the war, many Russian tanks got stuck in the mud.