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Putin’s Nightmare: Ukraine Is Capturing, Repairing, and Using Russian Tanks

Russia's T-90 Tank
Image: Russian State Media.

Photographs of two captured Russian T-90A tanks shared on Twitter this week offer a look into how Ukrainian troops continue to capture enemy vehicles, service and repair the machines, and later redeploy them in their battle against Russian invaders.


CNN also aired video footage in May showing Ukrainian soldiers using Russian tanks against Russian troops. Speaking to Alex, a Ukrainian tank commander, the outlet revealed how the tank was discovered abandoned in a field in March, only eight days into the Russian invasion.

Ukrainian Weapons Tracker, a popular Twitter account dedicated to tracking the weapons deployed in the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, shared the image and described how the tanks will “join the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

Within a matter of days, the tank was already back in action and being used by Ukrainian troops to fight back against Russian forces.

Reports of T-90 tanks being abandoned by Russian troops have also appeared fairly frequently in recent months.

What is the T-90A?

The T-90A tank seen in the photographs shared online is a Russian-made battle tank designed to succeed the original T-90 model. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine began in February, the Kremlin initially sent in T-72 and T-80 tanks, but several months later chose to send in the more advanced T-90A models.

The T-90 was developed in the post-Soviet era. Designed to be a new tank for a new decade, the tank is effectively a T-72 fitted with new technology. It has a top speed of 37 mph, is fitted with a turret-mounted 7.62mm PKTM 6P7K machine gun, and has a range of 340 miles using its V-12 diesel engine.

This Has Been Happening Since March

Only one month into the invasion, reports revealed how Ukraine had lost at least 74 tanks to Russian missile strikes, but captured at least 117 from Russian forces.

The information was obtained from open-source-intelligence analysts, who analyzed  photographs and videos shared on social media and revealed how Russian forces were losing tanks and armored vehicles at a higher rate than Ukrainian forces.

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It meant that the Ukrainian army, at that point of the invasion, had more tanks than it did when the invasion began – without building a single tank or taking any vehicle out of storage.

Since then, hundreds of tanks have been supplied by Ukraine’s European neighbors.

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

Written By

Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Stefan Stackhouse

    June 12, 2022 at 1:39 pm

    Even a “destroyed” tank still has parts that can be salvaged. Gather those together from multiple hulks, do a little welding, and you can end up with another still-serviceable tank to deploy. Thanks, Vlad!

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