London: Russian army is estimated to have lost nearly 40 per cent of its prewar fleet of tanks after the almost year-long of fighting in Ukraine, according to a count by the specialist think-tank, the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), according to a media report.
That rises to as much as 50 per cent for some of the key tanks used in combat, forcing Russia to reach into its still sizeable cold war-era stocks, The Guardian reported.
Ukraine’s tank numbers are estimated to have increased because of the number it has captured and supplies of Soviet-era tanks from its western allies.
John Chipman, the think-tank’s chair, said the war had been “a political and military failure for Russia” highlighting shortcomings in leadership and deficiencies in its munitions, despite Kremlin modernisation efforts, The Guardian reported.
“Russia’s actions over the past year have raised questions not only over the competence of its military and senior military leadership, but also over command cohesion,” he said, launching the IISS’s annual Military Balance audit of the world’s armed forces, The Guardian reported.
The thinktank’s figures are based largely on open source images from drones, satellites and on the battlefield, running from the beginning of the war to the end of November, although the conflict means numbers can only be estimated.
Its headline count is that Russia’s number of tanks in its army have reduced by 38 per cent from 2,927 to 1,800, while there have been particularly heavy losses of its workhorse T-72B3, an upgrade first delivered to its army in 2013.
Heavy losses on the battlefield have meant that Russia had lost “around 50 per cent of its pre invasion fleet” of the tank and a related variant, Chipman said, and slow industrial production was “forcing Moscow to rely on its older stored weapons as attrition replacements”.
Russian overoptimism meant that it suffered heavy tank losses at the beginning of the war, particularly in the abortive attack on Kiev, where large numbers of tanks and armoured vehicles moving in a convoy were destroyed on roads north of the capital. Many others were captured or towed off by tractors as the assault failed, The Guardian reported.