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Ukraine Is Becoming A Giant Graveyard for Russian Tanks

Akatsiya
Akatsiya from Ukraine's military. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Three weeks after launching its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Russia is beginning to look less like a mighty bear and more like a paper tiger as its continues to lose tanks and other armored vehicles.

Last week, Russian tactics were called into question when an armored convoy – the battalion tactical group (BTG) of the 6th tank regiment (Chebarkul) of the 90th tank division of the Central Command – was ambushed while advancing on the capital of Kyiv.

There have been military actions that are studied for decades, even centuries, and likely last week’s actions by the Russian tank column will be revisited for years to come – but for how armor should not approach an urban center. What is notable about this particular moment too is that it was captured on video, and subsequently shared across social media, where it highlighted the ineffectiveness of the Russian military.

“Very poor tactics displayed by this Russian armored force so close to Kyiv. They’re well within range of Ukrainian artillery in Kyiv, they’re on an obvious avenue of approach, and they still decided to bunch up like this, leaving them more vulnerable to indirect fire,” tweeted Rob Lee, doctorial candidate and senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Lee has not been alone in questioning the combat methods employed by the Russian military in its approach on the capital. Franz-Stefan Gady, an analyst at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, also called out the tactics, writing on Twitter, “Fight shows the danger of not securing urban terrain with adequate infantry plus recon. assets when main elements of a force pass through urban terrain ideally suitable for ambushes.”

Straight Into an Ambush, Ukraine Style

The Ukrainians are putting up a very good fight, and utilizing modern anti-tank weapons – including the U.S.-made Javelin – to great success. However, it is still Russia to blame, or more accurately its commanders on the ground, who are responsible for these mounting causalities of tanks and armored vehicles.

“I think we’re seeing a structured ambush. Anytime you put tanks in an urban area, you’ve got to be surrounded with infantry, and dismounted infantry at best,” Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, U.S. Army (Retired) told CNN.”And clearly, we had a tank commander taken by surprise by a well-orchestrated, well-executed ambush with antitank weapons.”

In addition to losing multiple vehicles, including a T-72 main battle tank (MBT) and a BTR-82 armored personnel carrier (APC), the BTG commander, Col. Andrei Zakharov, was also killed in the actions.

Where is the Infantry in Ukraine?

As Maj. Gen. Eaton suggested, the tanks are vulnerable because of a lack of infantry support, whose job it should be to clear the streets and protect the flanks of the vehicle.

With their large main guns and thick frontal armor, tanks can be an imposing weapon – but without the room to maneuver, and without infantry support to provide the requisite protection, tanks become a large target to an enemy equipped with powerful Javelins or Ukrainian-made Stugna-P anti-tank rockets.

Russia simply lacks the personnel to provide that protection. Yet, this isn’t exactly news, and U.S. Army Capt. Nicolas Fiore, warned as much in a 2017 paper for Armor, writing, “BTGs were typically effective in combat operations in Ukraine from 2013-2015, but on several occasions, BTGs were tactically defeated by Ukrainian regular-army units despite Russian overmatch in firepower, electronic warfare (EW) and air-defense artillery (ADA).”

History is now repeating itself and the situation likely won’t be improved, as Capt. Fiore added, “Shortages in ready maneuver forces, especially infantry, significantly limit Russian maneuver capabilities. BTGs cannot simultaneously mass for offensive operations and maintain flank and rear security, and they struggle to concentrate artillery against attacks on multiple simultaneous axes.”

Russia is now taking desperate measures to remedy the situation. That has included installing strange metal cages, which have been described as looking like “barbecue grills” on the top of the tanks to provide protection from the Javelins; while Moscow has recruited volunteers from Syria, who are experienced in urban warfare, to aid in its invasion. The question will be how well those urban fighters can actually integrate with Russian BTG tactics.

For now, Ukraine is increasingly becoming the graveyard of Russian tanks.

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. 

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.

17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Alex

    March 15, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Only two questions:
    1. Does the author believe Bandera’s Nazi propaganda?
    2. Does the US not provide a map of military operations and real losses of the parties?
    I heard from the Bandera Nazis that Russia will run out of tanks in a week. Maybe now it’s time for NATO to attack Russia, which has no tanks? And “do not listen” to the Russians who say that 74% of Ukraine’s armored vehicles have been destroyed.
    It looks stupid, funny and very cheap, but you continue to believe in the “tank cemetery” in Ukraine for Russian tanks.

  2. Sal

    March 15, 2022 at 4:05 pm

    Hate to say this but tanks are obsolete. A javelin costs about 120k, a battle tank about 5-6 million. Thats a 40 to 1 ratio, and they will only get more powerful. A 2.5 mile range,, point shoot and get away Like the battleship, they will be gone.

  3. Stephen

    March 15, 2022 at 9:37 pm

    Why are we continuing to provide critical analysis to the Russians about their military failures?

  4. Ben d'Mydogtags

    March 16, 2022 at 12:13 pm

    Columns of tanks can be directed by a battalion commander. But dismounted infantry squads and fire-teams require sergeants and corporals. The lack of competent, motivated NCOs is costing the Russian army dearly.

  5. Bertram

    March 16, 2022 at 1:50 pm

    When the war is over, no town or hamlet in Ukraine will be considered significant if it doesn’t have the remains of destroyed Russian armour on display in its town square.

    We do not need to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine. If we provide enough stinger missiles, and anti-tank rockets to the Ukranians resisting the Russian aggression, they can create their own no fly zone.

  6. Jacksonian Libertarian

    March 16, 2022 at 9:34 pm

    You fight a war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had. The Russian army is an armor heavy combined arms army, in an era where combat power is moving to light, fast, stealthy, missile/drone armed units. From every aspect (logistics, speed, stealth, expense, leathality, etc.) the new units (Tacticals) are superior.
    Rifle men in the trees vs. Musket armed formations
    Mongol Horse Archers vs. Medieval Knights

  7. Sempronio Densso

    March 18, 2022 at 2:55 pm

    Russian armed forces are demonstrating what they ever have been. In Hungary and Czechoslovakia, Russian instructors told those countries workshops to make maintenance jobs to a big part of tanks, so when Russian tanks arrived, there was only a tiny % of tanks in operative condition…

  8. Alex

    March 19, 2022 at 11:11 am

    I look at the map of hostilities on Ukarin and think: “oh, those other Russians, it would be better if they listened to the commentators here” 🙂 🙂 🙂

  9. Robert

    March 20, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    Quote: “That has included installing strange metal cages, which have been described as looking like “barbecue grills” on the top of the tanks to provide protection from the Javelins”

    We call them Cope cages, very fragile cope cages.
    What we have seen of the Russian military so far has been a pure embarrassment of military doctrine, the only thing Russia seems to have plenty of are internet trolls.

  10. Alex

    March 21, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    Yes perishing, indeed lie works wonders. Lattices from Javelins… Everyone sees what his education and development allows him to 🙂

  11. James

    March 31, 2022 at 5:16 pm

    Alex is a typical dirty alcoholic russian troll. I can just imagine his shitty existance. Wake up still drunk from crappy russian garbage vodka, goes to work at troll farm, surrounded by stinking dirty russians, uses trashy computer to copy and paste the same shit on all articles. Goes home to an ugly fat whore wife. Kids are stupid as fuck. Eats some garbage for dinner that people in the west wouldnt even feed a stray dog. Gets drunk on garbage homemade vodka. And … repeat till he dies from liver failure (hopefully soon).

  12. Alex

    April 1, 2022 at 10:49 am

    Bandera Nazi living in a pigsty believes that everyone lives the same way. He made several accounts for himself and shows how his ass is on fire, and I will show how his Bandera Nazis are on fire:

    The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, demanded that American leader Joseph Biden increase the supply of Javelin man-portable anti-tank missile systems to Ukraine. According to him, the Chechen fighters especially liked the ATGM.

    “We demand from Biden to increase the supply of Javelins! I am ready to personally reward the old man for actively contributing to the Russian special operation,” the head of the republic wrote in his Telegram channel.

    According to him, Chechen fighters are busy around the clock searching for and eliminating “Bandera and nationalist evil spirits” in Mariupol.

    “The guys especially fell in love with the Javelin anti-tank missile system, which has double the effectiveness. In order not to give up this valuable trophy, nationalists usually sacrifice two or three lives. And then our fighters destroy the entire Bandera crew from it,” Kadyrov said.

  13. wiseguy

    April 5, 2022 at 1:56 pm

    launching and UNPROVOKED invasion?
    how is 8 years of bombing donbass by ukrainian military forces unprovoked?
    when will everyone stop drinking the coolaid? current admin is continuing this war that they stared in 2014 (had to take a break in 2016-2020, when trump was elected) and as result will hurt EU and USA to futher destroy the dollar and US economy. to pave path to a NWO. and you still think you are fighting an evil dictator as your country is being dismantled in front of your eyes and you still believe its putin who caused inflation? LOL
    :-)))))))))

  14. Traveler

    April 6, 2022 at 3:54 pm

    James’s comment above is spot on.

    Send more Moskali! Continue the depopulation of this backward reprobate prison of peoples.
    Oh, I forget… they aren’t actually using Moskali to fight. Instead, they are begging Syrians, Africans, and Chechens to try do what they can’t manage to get done themselves.
    Their grandfathers would vomit, and then smack this generation.

  15. James

    April 8, 2022 at 9:03 pm

    Its true, they dont even bury the russian invaders bodies in UKR. Too many dead russian pigs. They are just meat for stray dogs. As spring arrives commie armour sinks deeper into the mud. The best is when UKR calls the families of dead russian pigs and tells them their sons or husbands are dead then laughs at them. We are watching dogs eat the body of your russian husband and father of your children 😂🤣😂🤣

  16. Alex

    April 9, 2022 at 12:24 pm

    Since the beginning of the operation, 261 Ukrainian drones, 204 anti-aircraft missile systems, 1,587 tanks and other combat armored vehicles, 163 MLRS, 636 field artillery pieces and mortars have been destroyed.
    During the month of the special operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine lost 65.6% of tanks and AFMEs (1587 units), 73.7% of aircraft (112 units), 50.3% of helicopters (75 units) and 42.1% of cannon artillery and mortars (636 units).
    As of April 7, 2022, the Ukrainian military has lost 95% of aircraft, 91% of tanks, and about 56% of air defense systems. If you believe these data, the conclusion suggests itself that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are almost completely defeated. In addition, information appeared that during the special operation, Russian units shot down 97% of the Bayraktar TB2 strike UAVs. The Ukrainian command had high hopes for them.
    Thousands of military personnel from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Marine Mechanics of Ukraine surrendered to the people’s militia of Donbass and Russian troops. About 28,000 Ukrainian soldiers were killed, of which about 70% were Bandera Nazis.
    The juvenile Banderp Nazis who hide behind their mother’s skirt are hysterical. There are rumors that they were sentenced by the Ukrainians and will carry out cleansing operations regardless of their age after a special military operation to denazify and demilitarize Ukraine.

  17. from Russia with love

    April 14, 2022 at 4:33 am

    James:
    “Its true, they dont even bury the russian invaders bodies in UKR. Too many dead russian pigs. They are just meat for stray dogs. As spring arrives commie armour sinks deeper into the mud. The best is when UKR calls the families of dead russian pigs and tells them their sons or husbands are dead then laughs at them. We are watching dogs eat the body of your russian husband and father of your children 😂🤣😂🤣”
    you described everything very well. everyone has a choice who you are with, with the Ukrainian Nazi cattle who do what you described, or with the Russians who comply with the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war and bury the dead Ukrainian military. they bury a lot.

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