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Putin’s Next Big Mistake: Sending T-14 Armata Tanks to Ukraine

Russia T-14 Armata. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Russia’s T-14 Armata Tank Headed to Ukraine? Ukrainian forces might soon begin to encounter new Russian T-14 Armata main battle tanks on the battlefield, according to the latest Western intelligence. 

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According to British Military Intelligence, the Russian military is considering deploying a small number of its latest T-14 Armata tanks in Ukraine. 

The T-14 Armata in Ukraine?

Satellite imagery from late December showed a small number of T-14 Armata tanks in a training area in southern Russia that has been used by Russian units to prepare for deployment in Ukraine

Russian pro-government media outlets are also claiming that the T-14 Armata will soon be deployed to Ukraine.

But, British Military Intelligence assesses that it is still not clear if the tank is on the ground fighting yet. 

“Any T-14 deployment is likely to be a high-risk decision for Russia. Eleven years in development, the programme has been dogged with delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems,” British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the conflict.

Although the Russian hope would be that the T-14 Armata would prove to be a wunderwaffe that would break Ukrainian defenses, in reality, a very small number of untested tanks would more likely prove a nuisance to Russian commanders on the ground rather than an assistance. 

To begin with, the strained Russian logistics will struggle even more to support a highly advanced tank, especially in the current winter conditions.

The T-14 Armata, moreover, is larger and heavier than other Russian main battle tanks and will have more difficulty crossing bridges or fording rivers. 

“If Russia deploys T-14, it will likely primarily be for propaganda purposes. Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat,” a source from British Military Intelligence added.

The Danger of Russian Tanks

Although the Russian forces have lost more than 1,600 tanks (Ukraine claims to have destroyed more than 3,000), Russian tanks still pose a deadly threat to Ukrainian troops on the ground.  

Despite tank crews’ superior training and morale, the Ukrainian tanks are older than their Russian adversaries. To be sure, the U.S., Czech Republic, Poland, and the Netherlands have sent or helped modernize hundreds of T-72 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but some of the newer Russian models are still superior. 

In a recent interview with the U.K. Times, a Ukrainian tank company commander acknowledged a Russian superiority in tanks, suggesting that more advanced Western tanks are the best way to go forward.

The Ukrainian tanker said that if his unit came across a Russian T-90 tank, then they needed three of their own T-64 or T-72 tanks to take it out. 

Introduced in 2016, the T-90M, the latest version of the tank, packs improved armor, an upgraded gun, and enhanced satellite navigation systems.

When the war began, the Russian military had approximately 100 T-90M tanks in service, divided among its most elite tank formations. Ukraine has destroyed or captured approximately 45 T-90 tanks, including 10 “M” models. 

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Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. 

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.