How Russian tanks captured by Ukraine support the fight against Putin

Russian tanks captured from Ukraine are used against Vladimir Putin’s own troops.

Ukrainian officials may continue to urge the West to provide more military equipment, but their efforts on the battlefield have been aided in no small part by Russia’s contribution.

There are numerous reports that Russians simply abandoned military vehicles, as well as other armored vehicles, howitzers and ammunition, during their retreat from Kharkiv over the past month.

British defense officials said this week that Kiev’s forces captured at least 400 main battle tanks (MBTs) from the Russians during the war, as well as 650 other armored vehicles. These can be repurposed and used against Russian forces.

Ukrainians with confiscated Russian tank
A Ukrainian tank tows a seized Russian tank near Borova on the east bank of the Oskil River in eastern Ukraine on October 7, 2022. Ukraine has seized hundreds of tanks from Russia, which has boosted its counteroffensive.

That aligns with figures from website Oryx, an open-source portal that tracks military equipment usage and losses, which said on Saturday that 453 Russian tanks were captured by Ukrainian forces.

Zev Faintuch, senior intelligence analyst at security firm Global Guardian, which has intelligence groups on the ground in Ukraine, said Kiev’s forces also destroyed around 700 Russian main battle tanks – meaning Putin lost around 40 percent of his armed forces’ tanks.

He said Ukraine had about 850 MBTs before the war but lost 300 that have been destroyed, captured, abandoned or badly damaged since Russia invaded.

“With simple calculations on the back of the napkin, you can find that Ukraine now has more tanks than at the beginning of February,” said Faintuch news week.

“The captured Russian tanks actually improved the quality of Ukraine’s tank corps,” he said. “The pre-war tank population of Ukraine consisted mainly of modified second generation tanks.”

However, tanks left on the battlefield are not necessarily immediately operational for their new owners and have mechanical issues that must first be resolved before they can be put back into service.

Even if Ukraine has enough manpower, Faintuch believes Kyiv still lacks enough tanks and armored personnel carriers to really penetrate deep into Russian-held territory.

“But even with captured tanks, Ukraine’s supply of third-generation tanks is still very small. Much less than that of Russia. Russia still has a qualitative and huge quantitative advantage in its armored corps,” he said.

NATO has helped provide Ukraine with weapons such as shoulder-launched anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems. The alliance also increased Ukraine’s artillery capabilities, which helped in the first two phases of the war, which were defensive.

“Now that Ukraine is on the offensive, they desperately need more mechanized capabilities to extend their advantage before Russian reinforcements arrive,” Faintuch said.

As Russia tried to maintain control of Kherson, one of the four oblasts that Putin annexed, he said that “the story of Ukraine’s growing armored capabilities will be watched critically because Ukraine needs armor to advance south.” .

“Kherson and much of Zaporizhia Oblast is flat and suitable for mechanized warfare,” he said, “once Ukraine manages to cross the Dnieper River in Kherson, it will need armor to advance.”

For months, Ukraine has repeatedly requested Western tanks and armored personnel carriers to fight Russian invaders, particularly deliveries of German-constructed Leopard II tanks, some 2,000 of which are owned by a group of EU countries and their allies. So far, Berlin has indicated that such a transfer should be part of a broader deal between Western countries.

As Ukrainian forces continue to make gains in Russian-held areas of Ukraine and liberate cities in the Kherson, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions, Kyiv needs equipment to conduct counterattacks, particularly on sprawling grasslands.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a training session with members of Russia’s national judo team in Sochi February 14, 2019. Putin’s forces were hit with the loss and destruction of hundreds of tanks.

Michael Desch, director of the Notre Dame International Security Center, said he doesn’t think Ukraine’s recent success in the Kharkiv region was due to differences in tanks or other armored vehicles.

He said news week that a key factor was the US-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), which gave Ukrainian troops the ability to attack Russian logistics points and ammunition dumps, thereby reducing the volume of artillery the Russians could deploy.

“In the south, they still maintain a fairly high volume of fire, but I would say it’s artillery, and precision missiles in particular, that represents the big technological shift of late,” he said news week“no tanks or armored vehicles.”

“Russia could afford to lose an incredible number of tanks and field many more. It’s really soldiers and artillery that pose a problem for Russia,” he added.

news week has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment. How Russian tanks captured by Ukraine support the fight against Putin

Rick Schindler

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