Ukraine Surpasses Russia in Tank Strength: A Shifting Battlefield Advantage

According to the latest data, Ukraine has achieved a remarkable reversal of battlefield advantage, surpassing Russia in the number of available tanks. Recent deliveries of heavy weapons from Western allies have bolstered Kyiv’s arsenal, while Moscow has suffered significant losses with thousands of tanks destroyed or captured since Vladimir Putin’s invasion 16 months ago. Bloomberg’s analysis of the data indicates that Ukraine now possesses more tanks than Russia, with approximately 1,500 tanks compared to Russia’s reduced number of around 1,400. This shift in tank strength is accompanied by a closing gap in other military hardware, including heavy guns and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

Various sources, such as the German-based Kiel Institute Ukraine Support Tracker, military blog Oryx, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), have contributed to these findings. Oryx, which relies on visual confirmation for tracking losses, reports that Russia has lost 2,082 tanks since February 2022. Initial estimates suggest that Russia started with 3,417 tanks, indicating a remaining count of approximately 1,400. On the other hand, Ukraine began the conflict with 987 tanks and has received 471 new tanks, including German Leopard 2, British Challenger 2, and American M1 Abrams tanks. An additional 286 tanks are en route to Kyiv. When factoring in the Russian tanks captured by Ukraine, the country’s estimated tank count stands at around 1,500.

While uncertainties remain concerning these figures, both countries closely guard their losses, and the true numbers are unknown. Furthermore, there is a lack of reliable data on Russian replacement tanks, including those produced or retrieved from storage to reinforce their diminishing forces. Analysts suggest that Ukraine likely started with a similar number of tanks and has compensated for its losses through new deliveries and seizures of Russian equipment.

Despite Ukraine’s tank advantage, experts caution that numerical parity alone does not guarantee success. As Ukraine aims to regain territory, it faces the challenge of launching offensives against well-fortified defenses. In such situations, a significant advantage is necessary. Additionally, delays in further deliveries from the West to Ukraine may result in higher losses during the counteroffensive. Forces on the offensive are more likely to sustain greater casualties, especially against an entrenched enemy with fortified positions and minefields.

Ukraine’s ongoing military operations in the south and east of the country have shown progress, fulfilling their main tasks according to a senior security official. However, President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledges the slow progress due to the need to navigate Russia’s laid minefields. Despite the shifting dynamics in tank strength, the cost of advancing remains high for Ukraine as it strives to overcome well-prepared defenses.

event_note July 6, 2023

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