Russia’s Tank Losses in Ukraine Surpass Pre-War Inventory: IISS Analysis

Russia Has Lost More Tanks in Ukraine Than Were Operational Pre-War: IISS

According to a leading think tank, Russia has suffered significant losses of tanks in Ukraine, surpassing the number it had when the invasion began in February 2022.

Bastian Giegerich, director-general of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), revealed that Russia has lost approximately 1,120 tanks and around 2,000 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles over the past year in Ukraine.

Giegerich emphasized the scale of tank losses, estimating that they now exceed 3,000, surpassing Russia’s initial inventory at the onset of the invasion. Despite these losses, the think tank suggests that Russia may manage to sustain its tank fleet by utilizing lower-quality vehicles for several years.

Russia's Tank Losses in Ukraine Surpass Pre-War Inventory: IISS Analysis
Russia’s Tank Losses in Ukraine Surpass Pre-War Inventory: IISS Analysis (Credits: The Moscow Times)

The IISS’s annual “Military Balance” report indicates that Russia currently operates approximately 1,750 main battle tanks of various models, with additional reserves in storage. However, the prolonged conflict has taken a toll on both Russian and Ukrainian ground forces.

In February 2023, the IISS reported that Russia had lost up to half of its key combat tanks within the first year of the expanded conflict. This assessment aligns with statements made by James Heappey, Britain’s armed forces minister, who estimated total Russian tank losses at over 2,600 by late January.

While Western analysts provide lower estimates, the Ukrainian military claims Russia has lost over 6,400 tanks. To replenish these losses, Russia has ramped up domestic tank production, although the newly produced vehicles are often not of the highest quality.

The IISS notes that Russia’s sacrifice of quality for quantity is evident, with Moscow reportedly able to generate around 100 main battle tanks monthly. Despite sustaining significant losses, Russia continues its assaults, particularly around strategic locations like Avdiivka.

In contrast, Ukraine has seen improvements in its tank fleet through Western aid, including NATO-standard tanks. The IISS estimates that Ukraine currently operates around 937 tanks, with the quality of its equipment improving due to Western assistance.

The conflict’s toll on Ukraine includes substantial tank and armored vehicle losses, although Russia’s Defense Ministry claims Ukraine has lost nearly 15,000 tanks and armored combat vehicles over almost two years of war.

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