Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been facing serious challenges since it began over a year ago. The Ukrainian army has put up fierce resistance, inflicting heavy losses on the Russian forces and preventing them from advancing further into the country. As a result, Russia has been struggling to replenish its military equipment and maintain its offensive capabilities.
One of the most striking signs of Russia’s desperation is its recent decision to send old Soviet-era tanks to the frontlines of the war. These tanks, namely the T-54 and T-55 models, were designed and produced in the late 1940s and 1950s, and are considered obsolete by modern standards. They lack many features that are essential for modern warfare, such as rangefinders, ballistic computers, fire control systems, advanced sights and gun stabilization systems.
According to an independent investigative group called Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), these tanks were spotted on a train traveling westward from Russia’s Far East, where they were stored at a tank reserve base in Arsenyev. CIT claims that these tanks are likely destined for Ukraine, where they will join other outdated weapons that Russia has been using in the war.
Why is Russia resorting to such old tanks? The main reason is that it has run out of better options. Russia has lost thousands of weapons in the war, including more modern tanks such as the T-72B3 and T-90A. It has also faced difficulties in producing new weapons due to economic sanctions and supply chain disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, it has failed to develop new generations of tanks that can compete with those of NATO countries.
Therefore, Russia has been forced to dig deep into its reserves and use whatever it can find to keep its troops equipped. This includes not only old tanks like the T-54 and T-55, but also other weapons that have been retired or taken from museums, such as the T-62 tank and the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher.
However, this strategy may backfire for Russia in several ways. First, using old tanks exposes its soldiers to greater risks on the battlefield. These tanks are more vulnerable to enemy fire due to their weak armor and ammunition storage system. They are also less accurate and reliable than newer models due to their poor optics and mechanics.
Second, using old tanks undermines Russia’s image as a military superpower. It shows that Russia is unable to sustain a prolonged war against a smaller adversary like Ukraine without resorting to outdated weapons. It also shows that Russia is lagging behind other countries in terms of military innovation and technology.
Third, using old tanks may not help Russia achieve its strategic goals in Ukraine. Even if these tanks manage to reach their destination without breaking down or being destroyed en route, they may not make much difference in changing the course of the war. Ukraine has proven capable of defending itself against superior Russian forces with better weapons before, so it is unlikely that it will be intimidated or overwhelmed by some rusty relics from Stalin’s era.
In conclusion, Russia’s decision to send old T-54 / T-55 tanks to Ukraine is a sign of desperation rather than strength. It reflects Russia’s difficulties in maintaining its military campaign against Ukraine amid mounting losses and dwindling resources. It also reveals Russia’s failure to keep up with modern warfare standards and challenges.