Russia estimated to have lost ‘almost half’ of its key battle tanks during Ukraine war

Losses force Moscow to rely on older Soviet-era tanks, report from military think tank says

Chris Stevenson
Wednesday 15 February 2023 19:21 GMT
Damaged Russian tanks in eastern Ukraine
Damaged Russian tanks in eastern Ukraine (AP)

Russia is estimated to have lost almost half of its best tanks during its invasion of Ukraine, with Vladimir Putin’s troops stepping up attacks in the country’s eastern regions including Donetsk and Luhansk.

The assessment, from military think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), suggests that Moscow's pre-invasion fleet of modern T-72B3 and T-72B3M main battle tanks has been hit particularly hard, with a loss rate of up to 50 per cent. The director general of the IISS, John Chipman, said that Moscow has been forced “to rely on its older stored weapons” thanks to production of the newer models being “slow”. That means falling back on its Soviet-era tanks.

“They’re producing and reactivating nowhere near enough to compensate for those loss rates. Their current armoured fleet at the front is about half the size it was at the start of the war,” said Henry Boyd, research fellow at the IISS. The broader loss rate across all models of tank is thought to be around 40 per cent, the IISS said in its annual Military Balance report.

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