In the two months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is thought that Russia has lost hundreds of tanks. Military experts have attributed the losses to poor usage of tanks by Russia and the weapons to fight tanks given to Ukraine by nations from the west.
The Magnitude of Russia’s Tanks’ Losses
The Ukrainian army claims that Russia has lost over 680 tanks since the invasion. In addition, Oryx, a blog that counts Russia’s military losses in Ukraine by using images taken from the warzone, claims that Russia has lost thousands of armoured vehicles and over 460 tanks. At the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Rand Corporation and the IISS claimed that Russia had approximately 2,700 battle tanks at its disposal in its offensive force.
The Efficiency of The Anti-Tank Weapons
At the start of the conflict, Ukraine received 2,000 Javelin anti-tank weapons and an addition of about 2,000 anti-tank missiles. Lockheed Martin, the Javelin missiles creator, explains that Ukraine can deploy the missiles to explode just above the tank where the tank’s armour is least effective. The Russian army has its tanks fitted with reactive armours and thus absorb a missile’s impact quite easily. Nonetheless, a Javelin missile comes with two warheads, one to blow off the reactive armour and the other to penetrate the chassis.
The US is not the only country sending anti-tank weapons to Ukraine; the UK has also sent about 3,600 NLAW missiles to help Ukraine standoff Russian tanks. Just like their Javelin brothers, the NLAW missiles are also made so that they explode just above the tanks.
A Royal United Services Institute research analyst in land warfare, Nick Reynolds, says that the Javelin and NLAW missiles are very potent. In addition, he is confident that if Ukraine couldn’t have received these missiles from the US and the UK, then the situation would be different. In addition to the Javelin missiles, the U.S government also supplies 100 Switchblade anti-tank drones to Ukraine. Also known as “kamikaze,” the Switchblade drones can identify an enemy tank miles away from the operator, hover on top of the tank, and land on it, destroying the tank with the warhead at its tip.
During an exclusive interview with Eat News, Jim Callahan, a Defense Consultant, explained that Russia’s tanker fleet relies on deteriorating Soviet-era tactics and strategies, chief among them being relying on unguided rockets to attack ground troops as those seen in the recent Ukraine invasion. The military strategist continued to add comment, “Clearly, their strategy is not working,” noting that the regime was currently employing forced conscription to maintain their military.
Is Russia’s Tank Approach Accountable?
Today, the Russian army relies on BTGs, otherwise known as Battalion Tactical Groups. The BTGs are self-reliant attack units composed of artillery, tanks, and infantry. Though the exact composition of BTG units may differ from one to another, they usually have a large number of armoured vehicles but a comparatively few infantry troops. Phillips O’Brien, a professor at St. Andrew’s University, suggests that due to relatively the smaller number of soldiers Russia can depend on, they deploy BTGs to create more robust fighting units. Furthermore, the strategic studies professors think that this method offers an attack with more punching power.
He adds that these units can attack fast with lots of firepower. However, because of the little protection, they are vulnerable to attacks. O’Brien compares the Russian army to a boxer with a right how but a glass jaw.
Further, O’Brien says that it was easy for Ukraine to ambush Russian tanks because of the lack of air support from drones at the start of the conflict. Since Russia allowed the Ukrainian army to acquire a firing position, they could cause much damage, especially to the Russian tank columns. Oryx’s figures have confirmed that almost half of the tanks lost by Russia have not been destroyed but captured by Ukraine or abandoned. Experts are now blaming Russia’s tank losses on the army’s ineptitude. Professor O’Brien says that some of the tanks lost by Russia were abandoned after they ran out of fuel or got stuck in the mad.
Rick Reynolds of the RUSI says that because the Russian troops primarily consist of recruits and conscripts, their fighting force is low-medium quality worldwide. Rick continues to say that impaired driving of the tanks by the Russian army has cost them several tanks. Rick also adds that the soldiers lacked the will to fight because they abandoned their vehicles and escaped. The government of Ukraine has already given instructions on how its citizens should turn in abandoned military vehicles. In addition, it has also affirmed that any individual who came across such “combat trophies” is not obligated to declare them for tax.
Tensions between Russia and the West continue to rise over the ongoing Ukraine invasion, with Europe intent on imposing sanctions against Putin’s regime. Many find themselves caught off guard by their recent aggression. So far, NATO has committed planes, ships, and ground troops from across the alliance to the effort to contain the Russian offensive. American defense officials have suggested that a proxy war is developing in the disputed territory. Further intensification attempts are being made to gain control of key transport routes in the Baltics and disrupt logistical support moving forward into Ukraine. In this context, many question why Russia continues losing its tankers as they transit northern seas.
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