If the Kremlin deploys any T-14 Armata main battle tanks (MBT) to Ukraine, it will only be for propaganda purposes and not because of its purported advanced capabilities.
The tank probably wouldn’t be sent into combat, largely due to a lack of confidence in the platform. That was the assessment of the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) last month.
“Any T-14 deployment is likely to be a high-risk decision for Russia. Eleven years in development, the program has been dogged with delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems,” the MoD announced via its daily social media update on January 19, 2023.
Sending the tanks into combat would likely be high-risk for Moscow, the MoD also noted. An additional challenge for the Kremlin would be adjusting its logistics chain to handle the T-14, as it is larger and heavier than other Russian MBTs currently employed in Ukraine.
“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,” the MoD added.
Since the start of the war, which began when Russia launched its unprovoked invasion nearly a year ago, the Russian forces have suffered from poor logistics, resulting in the loss of perhaps thousands of MBTs.
There have been reports of Russian conscripts issued with outdated equipment, and old rations, while many soldiers have been provided no winter clothing or cold wear gear – either bringing their own or requesting that families send it to them.
In addition, due to the significant losses of its more modern tanks, including upgraded T-72s and T-90s, the Kremlin has been forced to deploy older T-62 MBTs to Ukraine. Many of those tanks are older than the crews operating them, and a large number have been abandoned as the crews have seen them as little more than metal deathtraps.
Moscow may not want to risk the T-14 in combat, as it would be a major propaganda coup for Kyiv were any of the tanks to be destroyed. Instead, a few T-14s may roll into uncontested areas, which will allow the Kremlin to stage some photos and then highlight how well-supplied its forces are on the frontlines.
T-14: Much Hype – Little Results
Another issue for Russia is that it likely lacks enough tanks to even make a difference on the battlefield.
Though the T-14 was first unveiled at the 2015 Victory Day Parade in Moscow, Russia lacks significant numbers of the platform. The Kremlin had announced soon after its debut that the Russian Army would be equipped with upwards of 2,300 of the advanced tanks.
Yet, to date, only a few dozen at most have been produced – and it is unlikely Russia will ever have more than 100 in its arsenal due to the high costs. Even producing that many could be a challenge due to the Western sanctions now imposed upon Moscow.
Of course, the T-14 isn’t the only advanced combat platform that Moscow has largely held back.
The Sukhoi Su-57 multirole jet fighter has been used in a handful of sorties, and then it only fired its weapons into Ukrainian territory from within the safety of Russian airspace.
MORE: Ukraine Needs M1 Abrams Tanks Now (But Will Have to Wait)
MORE: Joe Biden Won’t Send F-16 Fighters to Ukraine
MORE: Why Putin Should Fear the F-16 Fighter
MORE: Why Donald Trump Can’t Win in 2024
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.