The standout battle performance took place on the eastern front during a series of Russian army attacks against Kyiv troops in the Lyman sector, according to a statement made public by Ukrainian Ground Troops commander Oleksandr Syrsky on Sunday.
The company-sized unit is part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine’s (AFU) 66th Separate Mechanized Brigade.
Video released by the Ukrainian military and widely shared on Ukrainian social media showed a single, late-model Russian T-90M Proryv (“breakthrough” in Russian) tank advancing through a farm field at high speed and firing at least eight main gun rounds at an unseen target.
Among them was a T-90 tank. All the tanks were destroyed in the Lyman direction. pic.twitter.com/WmxtWwqIAV— NOELREPORTS 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@NOELreports) October 8, 2023
The Russian tank appears to launch grenades in the direction of Ukrainian lines as a possible defensive tactic. The T-90 is then struck in the side and destroyed by an anti-tank missile, images published by Syrsky showed.
Close-up video of the engagement made public showed the tank commander fighting the battle with his head outside the turret, before the T-90 is demolished. Military bloggers have geolocated the action to the vicinity of Kreminna, in the Luhansk region. Some unconfirmed reports identified the area as farmland near the village Makiivka.
On the battlefront west of Kreminna, Luhansk region, Ukraine’s 66th Mechanized Brigade destroyed 25 tanks of the Russian fascist invaders in four days.— Michael MacKay (@mhmck) October 8, 2023
This T-90 tank is a spectacular example.
Ukraine will be victorious. All Russian-occupied territories will be liberated. pic.twitter.com/t39pmzNgGS
The T-90M is Russia’s top-end main battle tank and the most advanced and powerful armored vehicle the Kremlin has committed to fighting in Ukraine.
Among advanced features aboard the T-90 is protection called Shtora-1 (“curtain” in Russian) designed to detect incoming anti-tank missiles and blow them up with grenades launched from the T-90’s turret.
Explosive armor blocks bolted to the T-90’s hull and turret, called Relikt, are a second-line defense designed to blow up if struck by an anti-tank missile, protecting the crew and ammunition inside the tank by dissipating the explosive effects of an incoming munition.
Over the past 18 months of war in Ukraine, Russian commanders have shown reluctance to commit the weapon – advertised by the Kremlin as at least comparable and in some aspects technically superior to NATO-standard tanks operated by the Ukrainian military – to actual combat.
It wasn’t clear whether the grenades shown to be launched by the T-90 in the video were the Shtora-1 system operating as designed or smoke grenades intended to conceal the Russian tank’s location.
The Ukrainian missile strike that hits the target appears not to be affected by the T-90’s defensive systems and sets off a catastrophic explosion, demolishing the T-90.
Ilya Yevlash, spokesperson for the AFU’s Eastern Troop Grouping command, in comments reported by the 24TV channel, said that Russian troops have intensified artillery and ground attacks and that on Sunday Kremlin forces launched a record number of artillery and air strikes in the relatively quiet northeastern sector of the fighting front.
The heavy losses at the hands of 66th Brigade’s anti-tank company, a small unit of 80 to 100 men, were the result of bloody frontal Russian attacks that failed to gain ground, Yevlash claimed, in comments published on the unit Telegram channel. AFU units are standing their ground and inflicting heavy losses on the enemy, said the official AFU spokesman.
Corroborating evidence of heavy Russian tank losses in the Lyman sector were thin, with Russian military information platforms on Sunday claiming AFU units, including 66th Brigade, launched attacks that were repelled in heavy fighting.
Aside from the battle video, the AFU offered no evidence of any other Russian tank losses, nor was the type of the Russian tanks purportedly destroyed by 66th Brigade’s anti-tank company identified.
According to the independent watch group Oryx, Kremlin forces have confirmed losses of 45 T-90 tanks and 2,362 tanks of all types since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The AFU does not publish statistics on Russian tank losses by type, nor does it make public evidence substantiating kill claims. According to AFU kill-claim estimates published on Monday morning, Ukraine’s official number for Russian tanks destroyed over the course of the war was 4,823. Kremlin information platforms say the figure is heavily exaggerated.
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