Russian military abandoned tanks and vehicles in Ukraine, amid logistics problems and low morale

Smoke rises from a Russian tank destroyed by the Ukrainian forces on the side of a road in Lugansk region. Anatolii Stepanov / AFP via Getty Images

Photos and videos have been popping up online of apparently abandoned Russian military vehicles around Ukraine, which Russia invaded last week, as US officials and experts highlight various operational missteps on Russia’s part in the early days of the ongoing conflict.

Some experts on the Russian military, such as Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, have found a number of videos on social media. Some other open-source intel analysts have done the same.

A fragment of a destroyed Russian tank is seen on the roadside on the outskirts of Kharkiv on February 26, 2022.
SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

One video appears to show a Russian T-72B3 tank, while another shows abandoned BMP infantry fighting vehicles, BTR-80 amphibious personnel transports, MT-LBs amphibious tracked vehicles, and Infantry Transport Vehicles.

A number of photos and videos of charred and destroyed Russian military vehicles, from armored personnel carriers to tanks, have also surfaced.

A number of such videos, but indications that Russia is abandoning vehicles, due possibly to logistical or technical failures or because the operators were captured, come amid reports the Russian invasion is struggling.

A senior US Defense official told reporters on Monday some Russian soldiers left for Ukraine uninformed about the nature of what they were doing, and in some cases, there have been large Russian surrenders, sometimes without a fight.

“A lot of these soldiers are conscripts, never been in combat before,” the official told reporters, according to Voice of America. “Some of them weren’t even told they were gonna be in combat.”

Citing prisoner of war interviews, likely informal, he had seen, CNA Russia expert Michael Kofman said that it seems that for the Russians, “morale is low, nothing was organized, soldiers don’t want to fight [and] readily abandon kit.”

So far, the invasion of Ukraine does not appear to be going the way Russia had planned. Airspace above Ukraine remains contested despite Moscow’s claims over the weekend that it achieved “total air superiority,” a US defense official said Monday.

A destroyed Russian military vehicle is seen on the roadside on the outskirts of Kharkiv on February 26, 2022.
A destroyed Russian military vehicle is seen on the roadside on the outskirts of Kharkiv on February 26, 2022.
SERGEY BOBOK/AFP via Getty Images

And while it was predicted that Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, could fall to the Russians in a matter of days, Russian forces have yet to take the city or any other major city, but the Russian military has closed on a number of cities and is hitting them with long-range fire as its ground forces advance.

Russia is expected to adjust its tactics, correct initial mistakes, and strike harder at its objectives, risking an escalation of the war in Ukraine.

Moscow has now deployed up to three-quarters of its invasion force amid intense fighting across the Ukraine, the BBC reported, and there are unconfirmed estimates that over 12,000 Russian troops have been killed or wounded.

A huge convoy of Russian armored vehicles, tanks and artillery is advancing on Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky got a standing ovation following a speech to the European Union on Tuesday in which he said “we are fighting for our life.”

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