Russian military deploying 60-year-old T-62 battle tanks to make up for losses in Ukraine, MoD says
Russia is deploying 60-year-old T-62 battle tanks to the frontline in Ukraine to make up for their heavy losses, the Ministry of Defence said on Monday.
Even the 1st Guards Tank Army, supposedly Russia’s premier tank force, will be re-equipped with the ‘vintage’ vehicles, British defence chiefs believe.
In recent days, as Mosow forces have tried to take the embattled city of Bakhmut, BTR-50 armoured personnel carriers, first fielded in 1954, have been deployed in Ukraine for the first time.
It comes as the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force pleaded for ammunition for his troops around the eastern Ukrainian city.
Ukraine’s fierce defence means the offensive could collapse unless they were resupplied, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said, in the latest sign of tension between the Kremlin and the private militia chief.
Ukrainian military officials and analysts also reported leaders of Russia’s 155th Brigade fighting near the town of Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut, were resisting orders to attack after sustaining severe losses in attempts to capture it.
The Russian Defence Ministry on Sunday claimed their forces had hit a command centre of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment in southeastern Zaporizhzhia region.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said Russia’s front lines near Bakhmut could collapse if his forces did not receive the ammunition promised by Moscow in February.
“For now, we are trying to figure out the reason: is it just ordinary bureaucracy or a betrayal,” Prigozhin, referring to the absence of ammunition, said in his press service Telegram channel on Sunday.
The mercenary chief regularly criticises Russia’s defence chiefs and top generals. Last month, he accused Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and others of “treason” for withholding supplies of munitions to his men.
“If Wagner retreats from Bakhmut now, the whole front will collapse,” Prigozhin said. “The situation will not be sweet for all military formations protecting Russian interests.”
A Russian victory in Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, would give it the first major prize in a costly winter offensive, after it called up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.
The MoD said on Monday morning: “Since summer 2022, approximately 800 T-62s have been taken from storage and some have received upgraded sighting systems which will highly likely improve their effectiveness at night.
“However, both these vintage vehicle types will present many vulnerabilities on the modern battlefield, including the absence of modern explosive reactive armour.”