How Ukraine Keeps Capturing Russia’s Tanks: Russia has remained the second largest exporter of military hardware in the world after the United States, and during the Soviet era, Moscow often gave vast quantities of weapons to so-called “freedom fighters” around the globe. The goal was to spread communism to developing nations, but now it seems that some Russians are again providing aid to freedom fighters, but in quite an unexpected way.
And unlike the revolutionaries that the Kremlin had supplied during the Cold War, some Russian hardware – notably tanks – are in fact being used by those fighting for their nation’s freedom.
The Ukrainian military recently captured dozens of tanks that were abandoned by fleeing Russian troops. According to a report from Bloomberg on Thursday, upwards of 200 tanks were seized by Ukrainian forces, but it remains unclear how many are operational or will be able to be repaired.
At least some were destroyed.
A source in the government told the news outlet that some of the tanks even included such models as the T-80 main battle tank (MBT), one of the more advanced tanks currently employed in the fighting in the Donbas region in Eastern Ukraine.
The seized vehicles have been seen as a significant asset for Kyiv, which continues to depend on foreign aid from the United States and its European allies. The Russian tanks will be used to supplement the Western-produced equipment. As Ukraine had once been part of the former Soviet Union, many of the captured tanks are similar to what its own military has used since it gained independence in 1991 following the dissolution of the Soviet state. Moreover, some of the vehicles may have even been produced in Ukraine during the Soviet era.
Ukraine has already received a number of Soviet tanks from a number of allies, including Poland, while earlier this week Slovenia announced that it will send some 28 MBTs to Ukraine, and will in turn receive 40 military transport vehicles from Germany in exchange.
The timing is notable as well.
Ukraine has said that its forces have regained at least some 6,000 square kilometers (2,316 square miles) of territory in its recently launched counteroffensive. The speed of the advance had caught some Russian forces off-guard, and Ukraine has even managed to take back some territory controlled by Moscow and its proxies since 2014.
However, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin has reacted to Ukraine’s gains by escalating his effort to regain some momentum. On Wednesday, Putin announced a “partial mobilization,” which calls up as many as 300,000 reservists, and also renewed his warnings about the potential use of nuclear weapons.
Though Russia doesn’t provide information on its military losses, a policy that is not likely to change, the Ukrainian military claimed earlier this month that it has destroyed more than 2,000 Russian tanks since the start of the invasion in February.
Those numbers are likely on the high-side, but it is clear that Russian losses have mounted, and now it seems Ukraine has been provided with vehicles that were only weeks ago operated by the Russian forces. That will likely be the trend as Ukraine continues its offensive, as it could be weeks or months before any fresh Russian troops can be deployed to the region.
Expert Author 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.