American Abrams tanks have finally been deployed in Ukraine as Kyiv is forced on to the defensive as winter sets in.
Pro-Kremlin sources suggested the American tanks had been spotted along the Kupiansk front in northeastern Ukraine, where Kyiv’s forces have been defending against a renewed push in recent months.
The Telegraph could not immediately verify the claims.
Washington donated 31 Abrams tanks earlier this year, in an effort to convince Germany to sign-off on the export of its own Leopard 2 to Ukraine.
Ukraine’s winter defensive
This autumn, Ukraine took delivery of the tanks, considered a boost that will offer them more protection and firepower in battle. The US has claimed they are the world’s best and that they “will make a difference”.
But their arrival comes long after Ukraine’s much-vaunted counter-offensive using Western weapons has fizzled out.
Analysts have suggested the poor weather and the relatively stable front separating Ukraine from its Russian enemy meant the US tanks would likely be held in reserve.
Mark Cancian, a senior adviser with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider that the muddy conditions in Ukraine over the winter months made it particularly hard for Kyiv’s forces to logistically support the tanks.
Ukraine is now largely on the defensive, with Russia launching a last-ditch attempt to capture territory before the conditions on the battlefield make it almost impossible to manoeuvre.
Its forces have inflicted some of the heaviest losses on Russian forces in the last month since Vladimir Putin launched his invasion in February 2022, British intelligence officials said.
The Ministry of Defence shared data from the Ukrainian general staff, which indicated that the average daily losses of Russian forces in November had reached 931 soldiers.
It wrote on social media in its daily intelligence update: “The last six weeks have likely seen some of the highest Russian casualty rates of the war so far.
“The heavy losses have largely been caused by Russia’s offensive against the Donbas town of Avdiivka.”
Previously, the highest losses by Putin’s forces, with an average of 776 killed or wounded Russian soldiers, were recorded this March, at the peak of the battle over the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.
Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s secretary-general, also claimed Ukraine had inflicted “heavy losses” on Russia in recent weeks.
“We see high casualty numbers and some of the most intense fighting that we have seen throughout the whole war has actually taken place over the last weeks and... months,” he told a news conference in Brussels.
Russia’s last-ditch offensive
Russia has intensified its attacks on Avdiivka and the south village of Robotyne, in the southern Zaporizhzhia region, the Ukrainian military said.
It said Russian forces had launched “more than 150” attacks on Ukrainian positions on Avdiivka, as well as having “conducted 20 attempts to restore lost positions near Robotyne”.
The purported images of the Abrams tanks in Ukraine show the American-made main battle tanks without their new depleted uranium armour sets.
The models sent to Kyiv are the “situational awareness” version, an upgrade package from 2006, Forbes has reported.
US defence policy dictates that the Abrams’ manufacturer, General Dynamics, remove the uranium armour and replace it with tungsten before the tanks are shipped to foreign operators.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said on Sept 25 that the 31 American tanks donated to Ukraine had arrived in the country, but gave no indication when they could be deployed to the frontline.