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Russia lost more tanks in Ukraine than before war, says IISS

Russia lost more tanks on the battlefield in Ukraine than it had operational when Moscow’s forces crossed the territory to launch the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to a major thinking group.

Russia has lost about 1,120 tanks over the past year in the grueling war in Ukraine, Bastian Giegerich, director general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), told media on Tuesday. Moscow has lost about 2,000 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles over the past 12 months, he added.

“Tank losses since the start of the full-scale invasion now probably number 3,000,” Giegerich said. “To put this in perspective, Russia’s battlefield tank losses are higher than when it launched its offensive in 2022.”

But Moscow will likely be able to maintain its tank fleet with lower-quality vehicles for several years, the think tank estimates.

Unveiling its annual “Military Balance” report, considered an authoritative tally of the world’s armed forces, the think tank said Russia now has about 1,750 operational main battle tanks of various models, dating back to the T -55 now aging to modern T-90s. He has several thousand more in stock.

News week contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment via email.

A destroyed Russian tank in Sviatohirsk, Ukraine, April 22, 2023. Russia lost more tanks on the battlefield in Ukraine than it had operational when Moscow’s forces crossed the border to launch the large-scale invasion…

Scott Peterson/Getty Images

As the second anniversary of two years of all-out war approaches next week, months of attritional conflict have taken a heavy toll on Russian and Ukrainian ground forces. The IISS figures are the latest indicator of the impact of the invasion effort on the Russian armed forces, which are increasing offensives on several points of the front line.

In February 2023, the IISS estimated that Russia had lost up to half of its main battle tanks in the first year of the expanded war. In late January, James Heappey, Britain’s Minister for the Armed Forces, told British lawmakers that London estimated total Russian tank losses at more than 2,600, with around 4,900 armored vehicles destroyed.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian army estimated Russian tank losses at 6,424. kyiv’s estimates are often higher than the figures put forward by Western analysts.

To make up for significant losses, Russia removed its tanks from storage and put its defense industry on a war footing, able to replenish its stocks while taking constant hits from Ukrainian forces. Russian domestic tank production has increased fivefold since February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this month.

“Moscow has been able to resupply, but the vehicles that have emerged from Russian production facilities are, in most cases, not new,” Giegerich said.

Russia has already begun to sacrifice quality for quantity with its tanks, the IISS added. The British government has previously suggested that Moscow is capable of producing around 100 main battle tanks each month, helping to support Russian assaults for the foreseeable future.

Moscow has suffered painful losses of tanks and armored vehicles during its assault on the town of Avdiivka in Donetsk, northwest of the regional capital Donetsk City, since October 10.

Between early October and the end of January, Russia lost up to 365 tanks and 700 armored vehicles as the assault on Avdiivka intensified, the British Ministry of Defense said last month. Ukraine shared images it said offered a snapshot of sections of Russian tanks and vehicles littering the terrain around Avdiivka.

Russia has steadily advanced around Avdiivka, a strategically and symbolically important settlement that Ukraine fought hard for. Moscow gained territory around Avdiivka, hoping to cut off the main supply route for kyiv forces into the city.

Ukraine’s tank fleet has been transformed over the past two years, with Western aid supplementing its Soviet-era vehicles with NATO-standard tanks. kyiv had about 937 tanks at the start of 2024, according to the IISS, including several models of German-made Leopard tanks.

“Overall, we estimate that two years after the full-scale invasion, the number of main battle tanks in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine remains close to pre-war levels”, the number of other vehicles armored vehicles increasing thanks to Western military aid. , said the IISS.

The quality of Ukrainian equipment has improved thanks to Western aid, such as NATO-standard tanks, the IISS said, although this has complicated the logistics involved in deploying new equipment.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said Tuesday that Ukraine has lost just under 15,000 tanks and armored fighting vehicles in nearly 24 months of war.

News week contacted the Ukrainian military for comment via email.