Russia is dusting off antique tanks from the 1940s, monitor group says, as its losses mount in Ukraine

Soviet soldiers march forward alongside T-54 tanks during a training exercise in October 1965.
Soviet soldiers march alongside T-54 tanks during a training exercise in October 1965.AP Photo/Str
  • Russia appears to be dusting off its T-54 tanks, first deployed more than 70 years ago.

  • Images from a monitoring group showed the tanks moving through Russia closer to Ukraine.

  • Russia is already using obsolete tanks, but the T-54 is older even even its worst armor now in use.

Russia has taken tanks from the 1940s out of storage, according to new images from a monitoring group, as it continues to lose large numbers of tanks in Ukraine.

The Conflict Intelligence Team, a group that monitors Russia's military, shared images of the antique tanks on a train.

It said that the images show T-54 tanks, which the Soviet Union started producing in 1947, moving west from the far east of Russia.

While other old tanks have been used by Russia in Ukraine, none have been as old as the T-54, the group said.

It said the tanks were photographed leaving the city of Arsenyev in Russia's far eastern Primorsky Krai region.

It shared the images on app Telegram on Wednesday, but did not give a date they were taken. The T-54 was produced over several years, so it isn't clear how old any particular tank may be.

CIT said some of the photos may also be of its successor, the T-55.

The CIT said that using a T-54 is better than having no tanks, but noted a host of drawbacks from the primitive technology, like rudimentary sights, a lack of rangefinders, and poor gun stabilization.

It said the tanks were being brought "westwards." That would be consistent with a plan to deploy them in Ukraine, though the CIT said had no no specific information about Russia's plans for them.

Russia has already been recorded trying to take ground with badly obsolete armor. It included an elite Russian unit fighting with 60-year-old T-62 tanks after other tanks were destroyed.

Russia has been losing large numbers of tanks in its invasion there.

A monitoring group that tracks Russian equipment losses said in February that Russia had lost at least 1,500 tanks in Ukraine, which is more than half the number of tanks it sent to Ukraine at the start of its invasion in February 2022.

Another analysis from the International Institute for Strategic Studies last month said Ukraine had likely lost more than 2,000 tanks.

Ukraine claimed that Russia lost 21 tanks in a single day earlier this month.

And, as Russia faces these struggles, Ukraine is expecting deliveries of modern tanks from Western allies, including Leopard-2 tanks from Europe, Britain's Challenger 2 tanks, and Abrams tanks from the US.

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