Ukrainians Put Captured Russian Tanks to Work in the Donbas – Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine – or at least since the Russians suffered catastrophic defeats in the weeks following the invasion and were forced to withdraw from positions in the Donbas and elsewhere in Ukraine – Ukrainian forces have captured Russian tanks and repurposed them for defensive purposes.
Captured Russian T-80BV, T-80U, and T-80UK tanks in Ukrainian service in the Donbas from last week. pic.twitter.com/KTXG7efzt4
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) March 8, 2023
Video footage went viral online showing Ukrainian farmers towing Russian tanks off the battlefield and taking them to Ukrainian forces to be repaired or repurposed.
Now, more than a year into the war, captured Russian tanks are still in use by the armed forces of Ukraine.
Photographs shared on social media this month show how Russian T-80 tank variants are in use by the Ukrainian forces in the Donbas, having been deployed just days prior.
Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, shared the photographs on Twitter and added that the tanks seen in the Donbas over the last week include T-80BVs, T-80Us, and T-80UKs.
“Captured Russian T-80BV, T-80U, and T-80UK tanks in Ukrainian service in the Donbas from last week,” Lee wrote in a tweet containing four images.
The images appear to have been deliberately edited to obscure the backgrounds, which will make it difficult for opposition forces to recognize where the tanks are located.
The tanks have been visibly repaired and refurbished, with some covered in Konta Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA) that is designed to explode upon impact. The armor may dramatically improve the safety of older tanks, though it is never a surefire way to protect against incoming missiles or other ammunition.
One tank also appears to have armor plates fitted to the side of the hull, while another has armor surrounding the turret and engine area.
Tank Damage: See the Video Below
The damage that can be done to T-80 series tanks is significant, especially when Javelin missiles are used.
Video footage from January shows how the 72nd Mechanized Brigade was capable of taking out three Russian BMP-3s, as well as two T-80BVM tanks in the Vuhledar region.
The video, uploaded to TikTok, Telegram, and Twitter, shows the tanks engulfed in flames and huge explosions caused by Javelin missile strikes. At one point in the video, a huge cloud of smoke can be seen rising hundreds of feet into the air immediately following a strike.
Video from Ukraine’s 72nd Mechanized Brigade reportedly showing Javelin ATGM strikes on three Russian BMP-3 (only 1 is in the video) and two T-80 tanks (they look like T-80BVM) from the Pacific Fleet’s 155th Naval Infantry Brigade in Vuhledar. https://t.co/vynMHox7K0 pic.twitter.com/HkO53vlJNS
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) January 26, 2023
While the tanks are by no means new, every tank lost and used by the Ukrainians causes more of a headache for Russian forces who are relying on just one tank factory in Russia to create just 20 tanks per month.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He 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.