FULL DISCLOSURE: Sourced from Russian State-Controlled Media
SVPressa.ru – The nature of the battles in Ukraine leaves no doubt: the outcome of this battle is mainly decided by tanks. Especially – in street fights, in which so far it is most often determined: who wins whom in the end?
Naturally, the losses of the parties in armored vehicles are especially high. Regarding Ukraine, the most recent official data on this subject are as follows: according to the official representative of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Major General Igor Konashenkov, as of April 5, 2022, 1981 armored combat vehicles (AFVs), including tanks, were knocked out of the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
And how many of them did Kyiv have on the day our special operation began? There are no reliable data here. But as of January 1 of this year, the Ground Forces of the Ukrainian Army had an impressive strike power – 3630 tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles, of which, however, according to our experts, no more than 3015 were combat-ready. Still, it was impressive.
It is unlikely that these numbers had changed much by February 24, when guns rattled along the Russian-Ukrainian border for the first time. Since the armored junk, which has been rusting a lot on the territory of this country since the times of the USSR, should be removed from storage ahead of time, the Ukrainian command definitely could not succeed in a significant amount. It won’t work in the future. For with airstrikes from the very beginning of the special operation, we very prudently put out of action the shops that restored the tanks of the Kharkov plant of transport engineering named after V.A. Malysheva.
And in early March, Russian missiles actually destroyed the Zhytomyr tank repair plant. Without them, on an industrial scale, there was simply no one to bring back to life the arsenal of Ukrainian AFVs that had been rotting on conservation for decades.
Meanwhile, if we focus on the above data, at the disposal of Kyiv today there is no more than a third of the initial strike potential, that the Armed Forces of Ukraine had at the end of February. The rest in continuous battles has already been turned into decay and ashes.
At the same time, according to the estimates of the same experts, there are at least 2,500 AFVs in the Russian group fighting in this country. Basically – from the Southern and Western military districts, as well as the Black Sea Fleet. It turns out that we have already achieved almost three times superiority over the Armed Forces of Ukraine in this most important type of weapon in the current events.
But what else is especially important for understanding the prospects for the development of the situation under consideration: the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is able to decisively increase the number of armored combat vehicles on the battlefield almost instantly many times over. After all, in Russia, according to the estimates of the American portal Globalfirepower.com, there are up to 12 thousand tanks alone. Taking into account those that are scattered from Kaliningrad to the Pacific Ocean, weapons storage bases. Most of them are T-72 “Ural” vehicles of various modifications (T-72A and T-72B, T-72BA and T-72B3) and T-80.
A certain problem is that the bulk of these fairly old AFVs, like in Ukraine, are also, no doubt, not in the best technical condition. But no one bombed our tank repair enterprises! And even now, at the command of Moscow, they are ready to begin a large-scale restoration of the necessary level of strike potential of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
In addition, thousands of completely modern and carefully maintained armored combat vehicles remained in the Eastern and Central military districts, as well as the Pacific, Northern and Baltic fleets. How long will it take to bring them to Ukraine by rail in case of need?
In a word, the current situation for Kyiv on the battlefield is simply awful. And soon it promises to become even more difficult. Is inevitable in the conditions of complete air supremacy of Russian aviation and an avalanche-like increase in losses of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in armored vehicles. It is clear that the Ukrainian authorities need to do something urgently with this. What?
The only possible option is to beg for immediate help from the West, as in the case of the also knocked out combat aircraft. First of all, tanks of old Soviet models, of which there are many left in the countries that were members of the former Warsaw Pact. Simply because of the rapid introduction of such tanks into battle, no preliminary training of Ukrainian crews is required.
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It is clear that mainly calculations are made on the T-72 of various modifications, which three decades ago was the main one in the Warsaw Pact. That echelon with the first thirty T-72s, which, according to press reports, set off from the Czech Republic to Ukraine on April 5, seems to be only the first armored “swallow” for the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the western direction. Because in fact, absolutely nothing in the outcome of the battle is able to decide. Three dozen tanks – that’s just one tank battalion. Such forces usually do not storm even medium-sized district centers. What can we say about Ukraine as a whole?
This means that Kiev urgently needs much more tanks. At least hundreds of times. So many T-72s can now be provided to the allies only by neighboring Poland, which since 1978 has been producing such T-72s under the Soviet license in the T-72M1 variation.
As part of the Polish Army today, three combat battalions are equipped with such machines (a total of 174 tanks). Two with the 34th Armored Cavalry Brigade of the 11th Armored Cavalry Division in Zagan, and one with the 20th Mechanized Brigade of the 16th Pomeranian Mechanized Division in Bartoszyce. Another 144 T-72M/M1 tanks are used as training tanks or are in storage. There are 210 more T-72 tanks of various modifications in long-term storage. Only 528 units. Enough to form a couple of tank divisions.
Here, apparently, Kyiv is aiming at this arsenal. Together with Washington unconditionally supporting him. The scheme by Ukraine and the United States, obviously, was agreed upon with the Poles. The Americans, in scalded cat mode, are selling 250 of the latest 68-ton M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks to Warsaw for almost $ 5 billion. With the appropriate number of ammunition and technical support vehicles. Moreover, the first 28 “Abrams” to ensure the combat training of crews in Poland will arrive simply unprecedentedly quickly – before the end of this year. And all the rest until 2026. The corresponding contract between the countries was signed last Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Further, as conceived by NATO, the brand new overseas “Abrams” will go exactly to those battalions of the Polish Army, which until now were preparing to fight on the T-72M1. In turn, the old cars will try, I’m sure, to smuggle them to Ukraine.
There are only two, but very significant questions here. First, if we assume even for a moment that the idea will succeed, then how significant will the intended increase in the strike potential of the Armed Forces of Ukraine be?
The Poles themselves, of course, have long understood that their T-72M1 (the analogs of which were discontinued in the USSR back in 1980, and those that we left in service were resolutely upgraded to quite a modern level T-72B3) are hopelessly outdated. Therefore, since 2019, they have also begun to upgrade them to the T-72M1R version.
How much has changed in the combat potential of the Polish tanks so far? They dismantled the Soviet infrared searchlight L-4A “Luna” and instead installed a third-generation thermal imaging camera KLW-1 Asteria. The same as on other Polish Leopard 2PL main battle tanks. Old Soviet radio stations were replaced with digital ones. There are new means of internal communication between crew members. The former 780-horsepower V-46−6 engine received a digital start system. Well, they also installed a new GPS navigation system.
All this in itself is probably very good. But during the modernization of the T-72M1, the main thing was not done for him – the tank did not have a dynamic protection system, without which tanks are not riveted today in any leading country in the world. Because without such protection, tank armor can be pierced with almost anything from a decent distance. Even with an old hand grenade launcher. Therefore, the Poles themselves nicknamed their T-72M1R “disposable” on the battlefield behind their backs. And the retired general Waldemar Skrzypczak, who until 2009 commanded the ground forces of the Polish Army, called such modernization in a soldierly blunt way – “powdering shit.”
Here, in fact, the collective West is now working on such a dubious “strengthening” of the Ukrainian army with potential armored mass graves together with Kiev ready for everything. But on this path, the allies inevitably face a no less difficult question number 2. And now how can Ukraine get this “joy” where they really shoot? How to deliver tanks from somewhere near Lvov somewhere to Donbass, Kiev, Nikolaev or Odessa?
Trucks, as of today hand-held anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems, as well as small arms, ammunition and even drones, are transported from the western border of Ukraine to the front line will not work. Tanks are too bulky.
Load them on trailers? But those on the way are too slow and too visible from the air for Russian aviation and space intelligence. So – and for airstrikes right on the highway. And the path from the Polish border to the battlefields is still measured in hundreds or even thousands of kilometers.
The only thing left is the railroad. On the platforms, you can try to disguise tanks from reconnaissance. However, it is definitely impossible to make them completely invisible. After establishing the fact of the beginning of such a transfer, an airstrike on railway bridges or junction stations in the center of Ukraine on the way of such echelons will most likely become inevitable.
How this is done – Russia demonstrated at the Pavlograd-2 station in the Dnepropetrovsk region. Previously, military trains from western and central Ukraine followed through Pavlograd-2 to the burning Donbass. On April 2, two of our high-precision cruise missiles hit the station powerfully. According to information from the regional administration, the tracks, contact networks, and three buildings were badly damaged. Several wagons exploded. More rolling stock was badly damaged. According to local authorities, the movement of any trains through Pavlograd-2 has been suspended for an indefinite period.
I think the same fate awaits any other railway station in Ukraine if they try to push former Polish tanks through it to the front.