Go back a few years, and elite military analysts were warning that Russia’s T-90 and T-90M tanks were among the best on Earth.
Russia even exported a version of the T-90 for sale to military clients around the world.
And yet, the T-90 is getting destroyed in Ukraine.
Why is that? Social media might have some clues for us.
Bombs Away – T-90M Tank Seen Destroyed in Social Media Video
The footage, recorded from multiple angles by a unit of the Ukrainian 45th Artillery Brigade and shared by Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons), began with troops targeting the Russian tank with a captured 9K129-series Kornet anti-tank guided-missile (ATGM). The ordnance can be seen launched at the MBT, which was disabled in the snow-covered muddy ground.
The Ukrainian troops then deployed an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to drop “Molotov Balloons” – gasoline bombs – onto the tank. The video, likely recorded a few months ago, ends as the second of the two bombs is dropped on the MBT, which is then engulfed in flames.
Mentioned in Dispatches
It is just the latest such clip to be posted online by the unit, which has played up its exploits via social media. Around the same time, the Ukrainian unit had targeted an ammo storage depot in the village of Paraskoviivka near the besieged city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk Oblast.
These Ukrainian troops are essentially ensuring their actions will be noted – much like how British soldiers, typically brash young (even foolish) officers, would seek to be “mentioned in dispatches,” where they would receive a certificate or other award for their actions.
The 45th Artillery Brigade have proven to be successful not only in targeting Russian vehicles on the battlefield but also in making sure the world knows they did it as their videos posted to social media feature the unit’s shoulder insignia.
In addition to mastering propaganda, the 45th Artillery Brigade certainly has some resourceful soldiers. The unit successfully employed the captured Kornet (NATO reporting name AT-14 Spriggan), a weapon considered among the most effective and capable Russian ATGMs in service today.
Designed as an anti-tank weapon for use with infantry teams, the Kornet is reported to have a range that greatly exceeds that of the U.S. FGM-148 Javelin, while still being able to destroy vehicles fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor (ERA). However, it is mounted to a tripod and requires a team of at least two to operate with some time to set up. It thus doesn’t have the mobility of a Javelin or Swedish AT4. This puts the crew at risk – and possibly explains how the weapon was captured by the Ukrainian military.
Several reports have been of fleeing Russian troops failing to disable the weapon in the Donbas region.
#Ukraine: In the East, the Ukrainian 45th Artillery Brigade hit a Russian T-90M tank with a captured 9K129-series Kornet ATGM system, then used a drone to drop two “Molotov Balloons” on the damaged tank. pic.twitter.com/nL2xQXqaMi
— ???????? Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) April 6, 2023
It would certainly be seen as a high-value prize, and the Ukrainians are putting it to good use – but also ensuring that they don’t make the same mistakes as the former operators.
As noted by the video footage, the Ukrainian crew took up position along the tree line, which provided cover from the enemy. The Kornet was then used to successfully target the Russian T-90M (Proryv-3) MBT at range and disable the tank on open ground. The anti-tank team then “finished off” the tank with low-tech Molotov balloons – a twist on the classic Molotov cocktail. That ensured that a second round didn’t need to be expended, while the tank was still successfully damaged.
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.