Russia has lost more than 1,500 battle tanks in Ukraine war, Dutch war monitor confirms

Destroyed Russian tanks in Lyman, Ukraine
(Image credit: Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russia committed about 3,000 battle tanks to its invasion of Ukraine — and nearly a year later, it has lost about half of them, Dutch open-source intelligence group Oryx said Thursday. Oryx says it has visually verified 1,012 Russian tanks destroyed in Ukraine, another 544 captured by Ukrainian forces, 79 damaged, and 65 abandoned. Counting unconfirmed losses, Russia's tank losses could be closer to 2,000, Oryx contributor Jakub Janovsky told CNN. Ukraine, meanwhile, has lost 459 tanks, fewer than it has captured from Russia.

Russia started the war with more than 12,000 tanks to Ukraine's 2,000, by The Wall Street Journal's count. Janovsky estimates that Russia has about 4,000 tanks in reserve, though "many were not properly stored and might be hard to reactivate quickly."

Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, toured a tank manufacturing plant in Omsk province on Thursday, saying Russia needs to increase production in response to the modern battle tanks the West is sending Ukraine, the Institute for the Study of War think tank reports. The Kremlin's efforts to gradually ramp up Russia's military-industrial complex is "incompatible with the scale of the war that the Russian military is fighting in Ukraine and the scale of Russian military equipment losses."

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Ukraine may not be getting as many advanced Western battle tanks as anticipated, the Journal reports. Germany has committed to sending Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 tanks as soon as March and will refurbish more than 150 Leopard 1 tanks for transfer, but only Poland has joined it in pledging to send a substantial number of modern tanks. Britain says its 14 Challenger 2 tanks should arrive in Ukraine by the end of March, but the 31 pledged U.S. Abrams tanks won't arrive for months.

Other Western countries don't appear to have many operational Leopard 2s to spare, and that "should be taken as an alarm signal in Europe," former German defense official Nico Lange tells the Journal.

Still, Russia's armor losses are large and growing. Including infantry fighting vehicles, armored personnel carries, and other non-tank vehicles, Russia has lost nearly 9,000 military vehicles, Oryx says, while Ukraine has lost 2,934. In Russia's attack on the southern town of Vuhledar, Britain's Defense Ministry said early Friday, inexperienced "Russian troops likely fled and abandoned at least 30 mostly intact armored vehicles in a single incident after a failed assault."

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