Video Showed the Destruction of Four Russian Tanks: A video shared on social media on Thursday by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) appeared to show the destruction of a half dozen Russian armored vehicles in the Donetsk Oblast.
In the footage, which was recorded by multiple drones, an IMR-2M combat engineering vehicle along with four T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs), and a BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) could be seen targeted and subsequently destroyed as ordnance is dropped directly on them.
At the end of the 48-second-long clip, all six of the vehicles are left as burned-out hulks.
The authenticity of the footage hasn’t been confirmed, and it is unclear when the footage was recorded.
It has been highly edited, and the video captures the scene from multiple perspectives, but what is clear is that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) loitering over the armored vehicles during the strikes, and the wrecks are seen in much the same position.
Special Forces Strike
However, these vehicles were not likely operational at the start of the attack – and may have already been abandoned or disabled.
They still made inviting targets of opportunity, and the recent strike, which was carried out by Ukraine’s elite SBU “Alpha” SSO forces will ensure that the Kremlin can’t recover the vehicles or even make use of any of their respective components.
“This video also shows why destroying abandoned vehicles is important – these vehicles were left behind by Russian forces in the beginning of February but since then they were able to recover a T-72B3 tank and a BMP-2 IFV from there- which can be now used in the future,” Ukraine Weapons Tracker noted in a follow-up post on Twitter.
Though not stated, the nighttime strikes could have also been good training or practice for the drone operators – and it required only the use of a handful of ordnance to ensure that half a dozen vehicles won’t be returning to Russian service.
Ukraine has conducted such drone strikes around the clock to great effect on the frontlines, while it has also engaged targets within Crimea and even Russia.
A Recovery Vehicle Won’t be Recovered
One other notable point is that the destroyed vehicles actually included an Inzhenernaya Mashina Razgrazhdeniya (“Clearing Engineering Vehicle”), also known as an IMR-2M combat engineering vehicle, a platform built on a T-72 MBT chassis where the turret is replaced with a rotating multipurpose telescopic crane. In addition to helping recover damaged vehicles, it can clear rubble, and be used to set up sections of bridges.
The presence of the IMR-2 suggests that Russian forces had attempted to recover the T-72s or BMP-2 IFV. The crew may have come under fire from Ukrainian forces, which halted the recovery efforts.
#Ukraine: The Ukrainian SBU “Alpha” SSO struck abandoned Russian armour near Vuhledar, #Donetsk Oblast – an IMR-2M combat engineering vehicle, four tanks (Two T-72B obr. 1989, T-72B3, T-72B) and a BMP-2 IFV were destroyed by drone-dropped munitions. pic.twitter.com/EMSrXjFbhl
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) March 23, 2023
The recent drone attack now ensures that future efforts won’t be attempted, but more importantly for Kyiv, the strike also resulted in the destruction of the IMR-2M – a vehicle that could be arguably even more important than the tanks. According to open-source reports, only around 600 of these recovery vehicles were produced between 1982 and 1990.
The platform has been deployed to numerous warzones, so it is unclear how many may still be in service. Losing even a handful could seriously impact Russia’s ability to recover damaged vehicles.
Instead abandoned and damaged Russian tanks and APCs left on the battlefield could be captured by Ukraine.
When that’s not possible, it will not be easier to destroy them in drone strikes like the one seen in the video.
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.