Russian Battalion Only Has 10 Tanks and 30 Soldiers Left: Ukraine

One of the battalions making up an “elite” Russian tank regiment waging war in Ukraine has just 10 tanks left, operated by 30 soldiers, according to Ukraine’s armed forces.

The battalion of Russia’s 26th Tank Regiment, which is fighting around the city of Kupiansk, in the Kharkiv region of eastern Ukraine, had 10 T-80BV main battle tanks still in “serviceable condition” as of Thursday, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine posted on Facebook on Sunday.

The rest are “destroyed or disabled,” according to the General Staff, with those still in operation manned by around 30 Russian personnel.

A Russian tank battalion typically consists of approximately 40 main battle tanks, according to current affairs magazine The Diplomat. Each of the Russian tank regiments has around 93 tanks in three battalions, according to Insider.

Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by Ukrainian forces, by the side of a road in the Luhansk region on February 26, 2022. The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed on Sunday that one of the battalions making up a Russian tank regiment fighting in the Kharkiv region has just 10 tanks remaining.

In its latest combat losses report on Sunday, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry claimed its forces had destroyed 3,106 Russian tanks and killed more than 115,000 Russian personnel since the invasion began last February, although Russia has not released casualty numbers recently.

The Russian Defense Ministry has been contacted for comment.

In the early days of the war, the Ukraine military claimed there were morale problems in this Russian tank unit, with Ukraine’s General Staff posting on Facebook in March last year that soldiers in the 26th Tank Regiment of the 47th Tank Division were asking to end their contracts to fight in Ukraine.

Defense and security analyst Professor Michael Clarke told Newsweek on Sunday that the Ukrainian claim in Sunday’s Facebook post was “plausible,” given the “significant casualties” that the 26th Tank Regiment is thought to have suffered early in the war in March.

The 26th Tank Regiment is part of the 47th Guards Tank Division, which is a crucial point, according to Clarke, given the “elite” status conferred by the title of “Guards.” It is typically awarded by the Kremlin for distinguished service, while the fact that the regiment is equipped with T-80 tanks rather than standard T-72s shows the unit’s importance, Clarke stressed.

However, he suggested the idea that Russian personnel in the battalion has been cut to 30 “is probably a red herring.” The T-80 tank is operated by a three-man crew, he explained, “so if they are down to 10 serviceable tanks and therefore 10 crews, that is right.”

The bigger question was how many personnel remain tasked with repairing and maintaining the tanks, since if there aren’t enough people doing these jobs, then “operational tanks just become steadily more unserviceable, whether or not they get hit by enemy fire,” he added.

In December, an investigation published by The New York Times showed orders for a unit of the 26th Tank Regiment for the start of the February 24 invasion.

The orders “anticipated a tangle of possible resistance from Ukrainian troops and planes” at the start of the invasion, “yet they still laid out a mostly uninhibited, 24-hour dash from Ukraine’s border with Russia to a point across the Dnipro River, about 250 miles away,” it reported.

The unit of the 26th Tank Regiment would then “dig in” around two hours from Kyiv to block Ukrainian defense in the south and east. But “no matter how fierce the enemy was, the unit was expected to complete the mission on its own,” the Times added.

Commenting on the investigation, the Institute for the Study of War think tank then wrote that “Ukrainian forces destroyed elements of the 26th Tank Regiment in Kharkiv Oblast, hundreds of kilometers short of its intended destination on March 17.”

Harry Kazianis, a military analyst and president of the Rogue States Project, a U.S.-based think tank, told Newsweek on Sunday that Russian tanks are struggling to stare down Western-supplied anti-tank weapons that are easy for the Ukrainian forces to operate, as well as being “reasonably cheap.”

The report of the weakened Russian tank unit comes as Ukraine appears close to securing the main battle tanks from Western allies that it has long wanted for its own forces. The U.K. confirmed on Saturday it will supply Ukraine with British Challenger 2 tanks in a move that will put the onus on Germany and other countries to provide more military help for Kyiv.

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