As the tallies of Russian weapons captured by Ukrainian soldiers continue to mount, Ukraine’s military leadership on Monday announced its first-ever capture of Moscow’s latest and most modern tank with a brutal Tweet snubbing the Kremlin.
“The newest Russian tank T-90M was found in Kharkiv region in perfect condition. We ask its owner(s) to contact the #UAarmy. Please identify yourself by a sign: a white flag,” trolled Defense of Ukraine. @DefenceU.
Images of the very late model Russian combat vehicle costing a reported $5 million each first appeared on the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU)-associated news website mil.in.ua on Sunday evening. A video showed a nearly brand new T-90M “Proryv” (Russian: “Breakthrough”) being towed ignominiously to captivity by a practically obsolete AFU tank at least 30 years older than the T-90.
The T-90M is the most advanced tank fielded by Russia during its invasion of Ukraine. Prior to the war, the tank often was profiled on state-controlled media as an example of the Kremlin’s growing military might. The vehicle boasts an upgraded turret and cannon, as well as Russia’s latest thermal sights and reactive armor.
Since 2015 Russia has displayed a tank called a T-14 Armada in Red Square parades. The Kremlin has described the T-14 as a replacement for the T-90 and superior to all other tanks in the world, although it has not been publicly observed in Ukraine or with field units in Russia.
The T-90M tanks were first sighted in Ukraine by AFU reconnaissance in April. Ukrainian military information platforms reported the first T-90 confirmed kill on May 9, in the vicinity of Staryi Saltiv, a town about 45 kilometers east of Kharkiv. Reports variously credited a British NLAW guided missile or an AFU tank for the kill.
Photographs of the first captured T-90, posted on censor.net and other websites on Sunday, showed an almost intact vehicle with AFU soldiers standing on it and inside it, in a forested region of the Kharkiv sector. The exterior of the tank is draped with “Nakidka” blankets, a new, high-tech Russian camouflage system designed to make vehicles wearing the blankets invisible to infrared and thermal observation systems.
Ukraine’s Kharkiv offensive overwhelmed poorly manned RF defenses in early September, and fast-moving AFU columns liberated an estimated 6,000 square kilometers of territory.
A Monday statement from the AFU’s 30th Mechanized Brigade, an AFU unit participating in the Kharkiv offensive, said brigade soldiers captured dozens of RF combat vehicles including T-72 tanks, T-80 tanks, BMP infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled howitzers, automobiles and tons of ammunition. The T-90M images show the vehicle’s left track to be broken, making the immobilized 45-ton tank impossible to move without a heavy truck and trailer.
During the Kharkiv offensive across the AFU reported the capture of more than 250 armored vehicles, among them more than 60 tanks. Most were in repair depots and field parking lots abandoned by the retreating Russians, particularly in an RF central repair base in the town Balakliya.
According to Ukraine’s Army General Staff, AFU units have destroyed, knocked out or captured 2,212 Russian tanks since the outset of the war. The independent monitoring group Oryx in its Monday estimate said its open source researchers have confirmed the RF has lost at least 1,148 tanks in Ukraine, but the actual number is almost certainly more.
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