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The Russian Army Has A Problem: Ukraine Keeps Killing Its Tanks

Ukraine Tanks
Russian tank using defensive measures to stop missile attack. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

Russian Tanks Having a Difficult Time in Ukraine – Ukrainian social media is replete with photos and videos of knocked-out Russia’s tanks. But is this the normal course of the war for Russia to endure destroyed armored vehicles or does this show Ukrainian fighters have gained the initiative and tipped the balance against Russian armor?

The Ukrainians are using Javelin anti-tank missiles and Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 drones to destroy Russian tanks. Russia has a large advantage in tanks over the Ukrainians, but the home country may not be taking out enough enemy tanks to make a difference.

Russia Has a Huge Force of Armor

Russia began the war with 2,840 tanks – that is three times the number of tanks that Ukraine has, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies. If you count infantry fighting vehicles and other armored personnel carriers, Russia has 15,857 armored fighting vehicles. Russia can stand to lose hundreds of tanks and personnel carriers and still prosecute the war.

Russian Tanks Are Being Eliminated

This war of attrition favors the Russians due to their advantage in numbers, but the Ukrainians are fighting a spirited battle against Russian armor. Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, confirmed on February 27 that Ukraine has knocked out 102 Russian tanks, as well as 536 armored personnel carriers. On February 28, that number of destroyed Russian tanks went up to 146, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. Sky News reported on March 1 that Ukraine had killed 198 tanks.

Ukrainian Morale Spikes With Each Russian Tank Knocked Out

So, you can see, if these numbers are correct (and they are unverified), the Ukrainians are slowly attritting Russian armored forces. Moreover, any time the Ukrainians destroy a tank, it raises their morale. This video shows the destruction of Russian armored vehicles outside of Gostomel, a northwest suburb of Kyiv. It appears that the Ukrainians are destroying more tanks with stand-off missiles rather than engaging in tank-on-tank battle.

In the early part of the war, Russian attack formations from the north along the Kyiv avenue of approach were uncoordinated and erratic. Some Russian tanks traveled past their logistic support and ran out of fuel.

40-mile Long Convoy Could Be Decisive Against Kyiv

The Russians have since adjusted tactics and re-grouped with logistics vehicles included in armored columns. A 40-mile convoy of tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery, and support trucks are heading for the capital. The massive column is 10 to 20 miles away from Kyiv as of March 1. This vast force is likely to surround Kyiv and then eventually stage a synchronized attack on the capital.

As expected, the Ukrainians have made good use of Javelin anti-tank missiles. But what was unexpected is their use of drones with air-to-ground missiles that have destroyed tanks in different areas of Ukraine.

Drones Have Dealt the Russians a Surprise

The Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicle is proving itself by taking out Russian tanks. The Bayraktar can fly as high as 25,000 feet with a loiter time of 27 hours. This video shows about a dozen dismounted Russian soldiers grouped around a tank. The tank is then destroyed mightily by a missile from a Bayraktar drone. These unmanned attacks are encouraging but Ukraine only has 20 Bayraktars in service.

Donations of Anti-Tank Weapons May Be Delayed

Germany, the Netherlands, and other countries are sending over a thousand anti-tank missiles to the Ukrainians, but can they get to the battlefield quickly? Transport by aircraft is dangerous and the Russians either threaten to capture various airfields or have shelled them to damage runways.

So, Ukraine will likely have to wait for re-supply of anti-tank systems that will likely be transported by truck from Poland. It is not clear how long this will take. The tank defending missiles may not get to Kyiv before it is surrounded, and no re-supply would be available to Kyiv after the Russians accomplish this mission.

Overall, Ukraine is fighting gallantly against Russian armor. But the Russians paused and re-grouped and are now traveling with fuel trucks and not getting too far ahead of logistics chains. Even with drones and Javelins, the Ukrainians are not eliminating enough armor fast enough to account for Russian reinforcements. Donations of anti-tank missiles by NATO countries may not get to the battlefield fast enough to make a difference before Kyiv is encircled.

Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

Written By

Now serving as 1945s New Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer.



  1. Alex

    March 1, 2022 at 3:50 pm

    I’m sure. If you are posting fakes that have already been exposed, then you should change your job. I counted. According to Western propagandists, Russia has already lost 4,000 tanks, 180 aircraft, 204 helicopters and 25,000 personnel. I have one question: do you have at least some education or is America just a country of propaganda and fakes?

  2. familyguy

    March 1, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    Haha, russian troll Alex again! Every article is commented by you.
    It’s modern word buddy. We have internet. It’s not 19th centrury like propaganda in russia.

  3. Ryan

    March 1, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    If these drones are used well, and tactically any country could use them for Ukraine on their behalf without Russia knowing, I’d absolutely wipe out the tanks in the front columns of the Russians advancements, It’ll stop all the other tanks behind them and it’ll be a huge logistical nightmare to get through it when you’ve blown up a dozen, it’s about delaying them as long as possible, this war is costing Russia £15 billion a day, it’ll also give other countries enough time to help Ukraine.

    I’d also be getting Ukrainian special forces to be infiltrating Russia and plotting bombs around Moscow, show them how vulnerable they are, make the Russian people know what war is like on their doorstep and not just on the TV.

    I actually find it hilarious how Putin expects to take Kyiv, They once got defeated by the Taliban with Britain’s help training them against the Russians, how they expect tanks to be able to roll into Kyiv a city, basically the best place to use anti tank missiles, I seriously can’t see them taking Kyiv without genocide, and if that happens NATO needs to take action, The Russian people need to overthrow Putin, unfortunately the Russian people are being shown that what Putin is doing is saving civilians in Ukraine by propaganda and this is a good thing.

  4. Bill in Houston

    March 1, 2022 at 6:17 pm

    Putin, military genius that he is (snicker, snicker), was looking for a quick and decisive victory, like the 100 hour campaign versus the Iraqis in 1991.

    After all, the Ukrainian armed forces are a fraction of the size of his. He expected to roll into Kiev by last Thursday. What happened that he’s still trying? PPP – Piss Poor Planning.

    He may take Kiev or Kharkiv some day, but the costs will be very high, on ALL fronts.

  5. from Russia with love

    March 2, 2022 at 9:36 am

    The level of education of some Americans is amazing 🙂
    the first Iraqi company – from August 2, 1990 to February 28, 1991. too much for 100 hours, but some people want to lie 🙂
    in 7 (!!!) days of the operation, Ukraine lost access to the Sea of ​​Azov, surrounded by Mariupol, 50,000 troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the east were taken into the cauldron, Russian troops around Kyiv, Kherson was cleared, the mopping up of Kharkov is ending, the wax of the Russian Federation bypassed Nikolaev and Odessa and are moving towards Transnistria .
    if someone says that this is an unsuccessful operation, then you have to admit that all the military actions conducted by the United States are an example of incompetence and continuous tactical failures.
    keep burning Russian tanks in social networks and you will succeed :))) but this will not help the Ukrainian Nazis.

  6. Alex

    March 2, 2022 at 10:17 am

    family man: my country is Greater Poland. And you, Bandera Nazi, I see perfectly.

  7. Jothan

    March 2, 2022 at 10:24 am

    The drone-destroyed vehicles in the video are mostly BMDs, light, air-droppable personnel carriers used by airborne troops. They are comparatively easy to knock out even with heavy machine-guns. Of course, tanks also can be destroyed by drones. Thanks for an excellent and insightful article.

  8. Karl R Maier

    March 2, 2022 at 10:32 am

    The Russians clearly have made a number of mistakes.
    1. Air Superiority should have been done before the ground invasion (standard military doctrine).
    2. Captains should study tactics, Generals MUST study logistics (ran out of gas?).
    3. They have failed to adjust to evolving technology. Drones, Stingers, and Javelins have all changed the combat power calculations against the heavily armored combined arms armies of the coldwar. (800 years ago same spot, Mongol horse archers vs. Medieval knights)
    4. Armored forces are at a disadvantage in urban areas even if the opponent only has IEDs and RPGs, remember Fallujah?
    5. It doesn’t matter if they surround the cities if Ukrainians keep fighting. More Ukrainians live outside the cities than in, they can be supplied with missiles to attack the Russian supply lines (which Ukrainians already surround), and they will relieve the cities in time.
    6. Even if a city gets pacified, the Russians will have to fort up to sleep, just like the US in the middle-east.
    7. Russia is now an International pariah, and Ukrainians are “Freedom Fighters”.
    8. “Morale is to the Material as 3 to 1” Napoleon.
    9. Finally, there are 44 million Ukrainians and 150k Russians, that’s 300 to 1 on the defensive and on their own turf. I’m betting on the Ukrainians.

  9. David Burgess

    March 2, 2022 at 11:07 am

    “But the Russians paused and re-grouped and are now traveling with fuel trucks and not getting too far ahead of logistics chains.”
    Maybe use the drones to target the fuel trucks first, then the front tanks, and then the rear ones.

  10. TrustbutVerify

    March 2, 2022 at 11:24 am

    To ignore the Russian trolls for a moment, the Russians have to worry about those armored maneuver groups of the Ukrainians. If they aren’t engaging, where are they? If the Russians get drawn into close urban combat, getting sniped by Javelins, then the Ukrainian armor shows up on their flank and rear…the Russians could be destroyed in detail.

  11. yehuda

    March 2, 2022 at 11:40 am

    I don’t get why the Ukrainians didn’t use artillery to eliminate the giant convoy while they’re sitting ducks in the middle of the forest.
    There was little risk of hurting civilians while the convoy moved between villages. Artillery could be hidden scattered all around the country.

  12. LWC

    March 2, 2022 at 12:12 pm

    Defense-in-Depth is the key to deal with the Russian bear and its unsophisticated blunt attacks. Trade grounds for time while sniping their personnel and armor to make Russians pay for every inch of advance. Their supply line will lengthen, while Ukrainians get closer to the West and NATO supplies. Let the Russians obsess with the old dated strategy of taking capital cities, let them get bogged down in urban areas and suffer the expenses and costs in holding them. They will be like turtles trapped in a pot.

  13. Ben neviss

    March 2, 2022 at 2:35 pm

    Russians are destroying air strips. Ok, have they not heard of helicopters in Europe? Load javelins onto Apaches and convoy them nonstop into Ukraine.

  14. Marsh

    March 3, 2022 at 5:50 am

    Correction; most of the Tanks have been knocked out with NLAW missiles supplied by Britain. Whilst the Javelin are good,, Ukraine started with about 300 missiles whereas there were 2,000 NLAW missiles. The NLAW missiles are more suited to gorilla warfare and can be used up close and in confined spaces (from windows etc) it is the Weapon of choice by the Ukrainians as it is easy & reliable in operation.! Of course Sweden & Britain have supplied thousands more since War began.

  15. Alex

    March 3, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    As long as fools believe in propaganda, Russia is fully fulfilling its goals and objectives.

  16. Geoff

    March 5, 2022 at 7:23 pm

    You haven’t mentioned the 2000 NLAW missiles suppliby the UK. It appears they are taking their toll too.

  17. All the cool names were gone

    March 10, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    Well it’s 5 days later and russias tank losses (circa 300) are still rising in losses from AT missiles on the ground and drone’s as well as plain abandonment. Their other material losses are staggering -thousands of vehicles lost and captured including many fuel tankers lost and missile systems destroyed, plus losses of aircraft and helicopters casualties are very high too( 6- 12k+) plus captured and who knows how many deserrting/refusing. Ukranian casualties are high but they are fighting ferociously and the Russians progress is agonisingly slow, so much they have defaulted to their basic artillery and rocket everything and cause huge civilian casualties.

  18. William J Earley

    March 11, 2022 at 11:25 am

    The Russian military has demonstrated to the world that size does matter. Overwhelming force facilitates the ability of Russian forces to advance throughout the country almost at will. But at what cost? The Russian military has demonstrated to me that it can’t keep its armor supplied and if you can’t do that, then how do you expect it to hold that territory? How does an occupying force defend itself against small, mobile Ukrainian units armed with a plethora of missiles? The types of missiles only the armies of WW2 could only dream of? My guess is the Russian military will soon turn on their boy Putin. The Russian military is a proud institution and they’re not going to let a novice like Putin ruin it or their country.

  19. William J Earley

    March 11, 2022 at 11:39 am

    The Russian military has demonstrated to the world that size does matter. Overwhelming force facilitates the ability of Russian troops to advance throughout the country almost at will. But at what cost? The Russian military has demonstrated that it can’t keep its armor supplied, and if you can’t do that, how do you expect it to hold that territory? How does an occupying force defend itself against small, mobile Ukrainian units armed with an arsenal of unlimited missiles? The types of missiles that only the armies of WW2 could only dream of. Fire and forget weapons along with missile toting drones that patrol the skies in search of unlimited targets have changed the architecture of modern armies. Long lumbering columns of human infantry are a thing of the past. The machines are here.
    My guess is the Russian military will soon turn on their boy Putin. The Russian military is a proud institution, and they’re not going to let a novice like Putin ruin it or ruin their country.

  20. Alex

    March 19, 2022 at 11:09 am

    William, at least finish school, otherwise such stupid things just make you smile 🙂

  21. Rob

    March 30, 2022 at 8:30 am

    It doesn’t matter how many tanks they destroy. When you fight a battle with conscripts and not professional soldiers, moral will take a huge hit long before governments cry uncle. And lets face it, Russian soldiers don’t fight well from the back foot. They are prone to bad moral because their conscripts are poorly trained, poorly educated, poorly treated, and aren’t supportive of mission. You’d think that Russia would have figured this out by now but they soon will. Comrade Alexi does an excellent job of ignoring history.

  22. Alex

    March 30, 2022 at 12:29 pm

    Comrade Rob is stuck in history and does not know that today the Russian army consists of 2/3 contract soldiers and a special military operation is carried out by contract soldiers. With the exception of the scandal, when conscripts were sent to provide rear services. Their leadership has already been punished.

  23. Casey

    April 15, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    worst fake #’s ive ever seen, russia invaded with neaerly 3,000 tanks? 3X the # ukraine has? ukraine only has 1000? online sources say more like 2,500…also now, April 15th, ukraine claims to have destroyed more russian vehicles than they invaded with- why would ukraine need 100’s more tanks from the US if they caputured 100’s themselves and claim they have more now than before?

  24. Casey

    April 15, 2022 at 3:27 pm

    @ Karl R Maier- 44 million to 150,000 you say? weird since 5 million people have left ukraine, 39 million now, a quarter are displaced, and i guess you’re figuring on new born babies holding machine guns and 90 year old ladies fighting with bazookas….. btw this article is nonsense..russia invaded with larger #’s?? um excuse me…Ukraines standing army is LARGER and their reserves are large as well- whoever wrote this article is not at all smart and those responding have no clue what they are talking about. at the rate ukraine claims they are taking out tanks , 150 within 4 days of invasion, russia would of ran otu of tanks 2 weeks ago…..

  25. Chad Ruder

    December 18, 2022 at 6:33 am

    It’s been 9 months now with the Ukraine war. The 20 mile “convoy” heading to Kyiv suffered major setbacks and stalled out when the faulty Chinese tires of their trucks and vehicles all started blowing out once they reached the same number of miles on them, something around 250 miles and all the tires started blowing. This meant generally 2,3 and even all 4 tires blew at the same time. Thank you Russian corruption. Then when there were bottle necks of stranded vehicles the Ukrainians stepped in and started blowing the hell out of them. Ukraine has been preparing for this since 2014 when Russia took Crimea. There are many things that the Ukrainians have that we are not aware of that America has supplied them. And then there are things we do know: like Russian morale sucks, and the Ukrainians are fighting for their homes and families with high morale as they do not want to be under Russian oppression again like during the Soviet era. Zelensky is 2,3, 4 times the man Putin is, with Ukraine’s upper military brass smart, resourceful, and have destroyed the Russian army repeatedly. Russian upper military brass has been removed 2,3,maybe even 4 times since the start of the war. So there are no senior military commanders with experience serving the Russian upper ranks. But most importantly, more than anything else, if I may make an observation. Ukraine is expected to repay the U.S. for the tens of billions of dollars worth of military equipment. The only way this can happen is if Ukraine wins the war. And America always gets paid. Even so, remember, America spends more on national defense than “all other countries combined!”. That’s combined! So, who is going to win the Ukraine war?

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