General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces has stated that Russia had lost a total of 4,006 tanks since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.
It has been reported by multiple sources that Russia has suffered a significant loss of tanks, with estimates ranging from 2,000 to 4,000. This is a staggering figure, especially when considering that the country had approximately 3,000 main battle tanks in active service prior to the conflict.
Russia has experienced significant tank losses due to various factors. One of the primary reasons is the advanced anti-tank weaponry provided to Ukraine by its Western allies, particularly the United States. The Javelin anti-tank missile stands out as the most prominent of these weapons, capable of targeting a tank’s most vulnerable area from above.
The Javelin has been used effectively by Ukrainian troops to destroy Russian tanks at long ranges and in urban environments. The Pentagon has claimed that the Javelin and other anti-armour systems have been used with “creativity” and “ingenuity” by the Ukrainians.
Analysts have observed that the insufficient tactics and training of Russian tank crews constitute the second factor. Russia has been criticized for utilizing archaic and inefficient techniques when deploying tanks, like grouping them together in sizable clusters and recklessly exposing them to enemy attacks. Furthermore, Russia has not adequately provided air support and reconnaissance for its tanks, making them susceptible to ambushes and airstrikes.
Russia has also been facing challenges with low morale and motivation among its tank crews due to inadequate training and equipment. The loss of many skilled tankers in the initial stages of the war has further compounded the issue, leaving a dearth of experienced personnel to mentor and train the upcoming generation.
The third factor is the counteroffensive by Ukraine, which has managed to recapture some territory and inflict heavy losses on Russian forces. Ukraine has also captured and used some of the Russian tanks against their former owners.
According to Oryx, a blog that tracks military losses using open-source information, Ukraine has increased its tank numbers by 18% since the start of the war, from 1,100 to 1,300. This is partly due to supplies of Soviet-era tanks from countries like Poland and the Czech Republic, but also due to capturing Russian tanks on the battlefield.