Russian tanks have struggled over the last year and a half in Ukraine.
Scores of images revealing decimated turrets and burnt-out armored vehicles have circulated across the world, indicating that Moscow’s fleet of main battle tanks is rapidly dwindling.
While Kyiv’s defense strategies have contributed mightily to Moscow’s heavy tank losses, the array of advanced weapons provided by the U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies have really solidified the country’s anti-tank warfare capabilities.
Russia’s Tanks are Suffering Greatly
According to the open-source intelligence tracker Oryx, Russian forces have likely lost two-thirds of their tanks in Ukraine since the invasion first kicked off in February 2022.
The data provided shows that out of the roughly 3,000 MBTs Moscow has deployed to the front lines of the war, potentially only 1,000 remain in active service. It is also noted that while the majority of these Soviet-era tanks had been destroyed by Ukraine’s anti-tank weapons, hundreds were also captured.
The Kremlin initially deployed some of its more sophisticated MBTs, however, it soon turned to its stockpiles of antiquated Soviet tanks to fulfill its need for armored vehicles. In addition to churning out old T-62 tanks from storage, Russia has even sent some of its older T-54 and T-55 models to the front lines.
Despite their vast differences in age, the seventy-plus-year-old T-54s and the newer T-90s have suffered equally in the invasion. Many Russian soldiers were sent to the front lines ill-equipped and unprepared to operate and maintain their tanks.
Logistical issues involving fuel shortages also led to some Russian troops not having enough steam to trek to target areas and back, forcing them to leave their MBTs behind for capture. Now that incoming shipments of more advanced Western MBTs are being delivered to aid Ukraine’s counter-offensive, Russian tanks are facing an even steeper downhill battle.
New Video Displays Destruction of a Russian T-80 MBT
Just last week, a new video showing the destruction of a T-80 MBT in the vicinity of Vodyane, Donetsk Oblast, surfaced. Ukraine Weapons Tracker published the minute-long footage, which shows the aftermath of a Ukrainian attack on the armored vehicle.
Despite the Kremlin’s claims that the T-80 is an absolute powerhouse in the ongoing invasion, the tank has clearly not lived up to the hype. Back in February, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that more than 65% of Russia’s T-80 inventory had been destroyed in the first fourteen months of battle. This number is probably even higher now.
The T-80 is fitted with the same 125mm smoothbore main gun as its T-72 predecessor. Weighing in at roughly 45 tons, the T-80 is considered lightweight and is notably much smaller than the 70-ton U.S. Abrams. While the tank’s smaller frame could improve its mobility, the T-80 is much less survivable than its heavier counterparts since it is less protected.
Since the invasion commenced, countless videos displaying the utter destruction of T-80 tanks have circulated widely, making the latest footage shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker less shocking. Kyiv’s continued counter-offensive does not bode well for T-80 or any other Russian tanks for that matter.
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) August 3, 2023
Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.