Russia is sending Soviet-era tanks to try to contain the Ukrainian counteroffensive

The T-54/55s were taken from Arsenyev’s warehouse. (Maxar Technologies)

Russia is sending Soviet tanks of almost 70 years old to help the troops Vladimir Putin to continue the invasion Ukraine.

Is about T-55 tanksa model commissioned for the first time by the Red Army of the Soviet Union in 1948, shortly after the end of World War II.

These tanks, which in some variants are so old they can be found in museums, were seen on freight trains heading to the front line and detected on satellite imagery.

The T-55 It was the first tank used by the Soviet Union at the time of the Cold War. Since then, together with its numerous variants, it has become the most produced tank in the world, with more than 100,000 units built. Cheap, reliable, easy to use and maintain, it was a military mainstay of the Red Army from Egypt until China and Sudanwhere they are still used.

Soviet T-55 Tanks - Russia Ukraine War
T-55 tanks roam the streets of Prague, the capital of then-Czechoslovakia, in 1968. (Gettyimages)

In Eastern Europethe T-55s were used to quell anti-Soviet uprisings in Hungary in 1956 and Praguecapital of the then Czechoslovakia, in 1968.

Soviet T-55 Tanks - Russia Ukraine War
Soviet T-54/T-55 tanks form a menacing ring around the Parliament buildings in Hungary on November 12, 1956. (Gettyimages)

Satellite images indicate that Russia has removed dozens of tanks from the warehouses of the Arsenyev basein the far eastern part of the country. Photos in the public domain show that one of the tanks stored at the base is the T-55.

“They have been there for a decade or more,” he told CNN the historian john delaneyChief Curator of the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in Cambridge.

“They will need a considerable amount of work to get them back in good working order,” he explained.

After images of a trainload of tanks appeared on social media at the end of March, the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT), a group of volunteers that uses open source intelligence to investigate the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, was the first to report that the T-54/55 were being taken out of the warehouse Arsenyev.

Soviet T-55 Tanks - Russia Ukraine War
The Arsenyev tank depot before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on April 22, 2021. (Maxar Technologies)

Russia has not confirmed that it is deploying the T-55 in the front But, in recent weeks, pro-Kremlin war bloggers have shared photos showing these tanks, apparently in Russian-occupied territories in Ukraine.

T-55 Tanks - Russia Ukraine War
Photos shared by Russian military bloggers on the networks show T-55 tank in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine.

T-55 Tanks - Russia Ukraine War

According to the open source intelligence website Oryxbased in the Netherlands, Russia has lost more than 1,900 tanks from the start of the invasion, nearly two-thirds of an initial fleet of about 3,000 tanks.

Beyond the quantity, a big problem is the speed at which Russian armor is being destroyed and the difficulty in building new ones.

“They are producing some new tanks – they are still producing T-90– but, at the (required) scale, they need more equipment than they can produce, so they are turning to older and older tanks to compensate,” he told CNN Robert Leeformer US Marine and member of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

A T-90 tank of the Russian army destroyed in a drone attack by the Ukrainian Army (Reuters)
A T-90 tank of the Russian army destroyed in a drone attack by the Ukrainian Army (Reuters) (UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCES PRESS SER /)

trevor taylordirector of the Defense, Industries and Society Program at the Royal United Services Institute, told the US network that Western sanctions are also slowing down Russian weapons production.

“We have multiple proofs that the russian industrywhich had been given access to Western technology in the 1990s, is really suffering from the restrictionsTaylor said. “We have news that they are taking chips out of washing machines. And when you do that, it’s obvious that you have a lot of difficulties.”

Ease of use for recruits

According to experts consulted by CNNit is likely that some of these tanks were initially used in defensive positions in the rearsomething that could make the T-55s especially useful against the expected Ukrainian spring offensive.

“It can be used to defend a front line against a counterattack,” Delaney said. “If you’ve been the aggressor in a war and suddenly you’re about to go on the defensive, this would be effective for static defensive positions.”

Also, the T-55 offers Easy to usesomething that makes them more suitable for poorly trained recruits like those who have been sent to the front in recent weeks.

UkraineIn fact, he also has in his arsenal T-55, albeit in a highly modernized version supplied by Slovenia called 28M-55.

A Spanish Leopard 2 main battle tank from NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence battle group attends the Crystal Arrow 2023 military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, on March 29, 2023. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)
A Spanish Leopard 2 main battle tank from NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence combat group attends the Crystal Arrow 2023 military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, on March 29, 2023. (REUTERS / Ints Kalnins) (INTS KALNINS /)

Ukraine also has the most advanced and modern equipment in the NATOLike the challenger either Leopard 2. These tanks boast better armor, longer range, and more maneuverability and could come into play especially when up against much older Soviet equipment.

“If you’re fighting a big armored tank over vast expanses of land, you’re at a distinct disadvantage,” Delaney said of the Russian T-55s. “[Vs. a Leopard or a Challenger]if it’s a one-on-one tank fight, it will always lose.”

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