The Russian military is facing its biggest test in Ukraine yet: thousands of dead tanks.
Putin’s tank problem is compounded by the fact that he can’t replace his best tanks with armor of similar capabilities.
And it is all being captured on social media.
Russian T-72B Destruction Caught on Video Footage
In the more than two-minute-long video, the MBT was seen traveling down a dirt road south of the settlement of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast. The tank attempted to evade the enemy fire, but eventually was hit and disabled and even possibly destroyed. It is unclear from the clip if any of the crew had survived the artillery strike.
Ukraine has successfully utilized drones to aid its artillery. It has been suggested that the tank was targeted by Western-supplied M144 155mm howitzers, a platform widely employed by the Ukrainian military in the region.
The area around the settlement has been the scene of intense fighting in recent days and is near the epicenter of the recently launched Ukrainian offensive. There have been reports that Kyiv’s forces had stepped up efforts to break through in the Orihiv-Tokmak sector, which blocks the route to the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol – a key objective for the Ukrainian military.
Fighting has been intense along the entirety of the front since the start of the offensive operations.
Both Ukraine and Russia have continued to make claims of heavy losses to their respective enemy. It has been confirmed that a number of Ukraine’s Leopard 2 MBTs have been lost in the recent fighting, along with as many as sixteen M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Russia has also seen a number of tanks and other vehicles destroyed – as noted in this recent video.
A Drop in the Bucket?
Though much has been made of the losses of the Leopard 2s, the fact remains that more T-72s have been lost in the recent fighting than any other MBT. In fact, the number of Russian tanks that have been lost is so staggering that the Kremlin has been forced to employ older T-62 and even T-54/55 series tanks to bolster its numbers.
Such losses weren’t likely expected when the T-72 was introduced in 1973. It was noteworthy at the time for having a crew of three compared to the four Western MBTs. It was actually a tank that was feared and respected by the West – even if it didn’t fare all that well on the battlefield in 1991’s Gulf War.
However, the T-72 has been steadily upgraded over the years. This included the T-72B, which entered into service with the Russian army in 1984. It was equipped with a variety of improvements including a new type of diesel engine, enhanced suspension and armor protection, as well as additional defensive features including a smoke-grenade launcher.
The advancements to the T-72 haven’t been enough to save it on the frontlines, however – especially from drone-spotted artillery, and even worse from man-portable anti-tank weapons. The loss of the recent T-72 outside of Robotyne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast is just a drop in the bucket of MBTs destroyed in the fighting.
The region has truly become a graveyard of armor.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) June 12, 2023
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.