But in an unusual comment on Russian military losses, the Kremlin leader told Russian military bloggers and journalists on Tuesday that Moscow’s troops had lost 54 tanks when discussing the ongoing counteroffensive. Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, said on June 6 that Russia had lost 15 T-90M tanks and nine BTR-D armored vehicles in counteroffensive engagements.
Russia has potentially lost up to half of its most advanced operational tank fleet since the start of the Ukraine war, including the newest T-90M Proryv (Breakthrough), which President Vladimir Putin called the world’s best.
In an interview with pro-Russian military bloggers, Putin on Tuesday said that the so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine has confirmed that the T-90M Proryv is the world’s best main battle tank.
“Today, we can say that the T-90M Proryv is the world’s best tank. As soon as it approaches positions, no chance is left for anyone or anything. It fires to a longer range and more accurately. It also has better protection,” Putin said.
Putin cited a Russian soldier’s story about a T-90M tank hitting a roadside bomb. “It simply apparently jumped up and a man inside was injured not by the shell but because he simply bumped pretty hard. The tank remained intact,” the Russian president said.
The state media have called the T-90M Proryv the most advanced armored vehicle in the family of T-90 main battle tanks and most of all fit for modern warfare thanks to its all-round armor protection, top-notch all-weather highly automated fire control, and enhanced survivability.
Meanwhile, the Dutch open-source intelligence website Oryx, which has been collecting visual evidence of military equipment losses, said that the Russian army has lost at least 54 T-90M tanks since Russia’s invasion began on February 24, 2022.
There could be more and even if these numbers are off a bit one way or the other, it’s clear Russia has lost a significant number of its modern military vehicles and heavy equipment so far in its invasion of Ukraine.
Estimates indicate that perhaps only 100 or so examples were in service at the time Russia launched its latest invasion of Ukraine in late February.
The T-90M is the latest main battle tank to enter frontline Russian service and it is the upgrade version of Soviet-era T-72 family main battle tanks. In this regard, the new tank inherited all the same conceptual flaws of its predecessor, such as the rounds for the main gun being stored directly underneath the turret, poor protection against modern anti-tank systems, and the lack of modern onboard electronics.
The T-90M seems as vulnerable as other Russian armor to Western-designed anti-tank weapons.
According to the Dutch open-source outlet, Oryx, Russia has lost 5,041 tanks since February 24, 2022. Of these, 4,497 were destroyed, and 544 were captured by Ukraine, according to this count. However, this only includes visually-confirmed losses, and the real total could be higher. It also does not account for other types of armored military vehicles.
In mid-February 2023, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that Moscow had lost almost 60 percent of its pre-war tank fleet following nine months of bitter fighting in Ukraine. This figure rose higher, to 60 percent for some of Russia’s key combat tanks.
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