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Russia removes up to 40% of its tank reserves; "production" is actually modernisation – ISW

Sunday, 10 March 2024, 04:30
Russia removes up to 40% of its tank reserves; production is actually modernisation – ISW
A Ukrainian tank. Photo: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Open-source researchers have analysed satellite imagery and concluded that Russia has removed 25 to 40 per cent of its strategic tank reserves, depending on the model, from open-air storage facilities.

Source: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Details: Dara Massicot, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Russia and Eurasia Programme, has estimated that Russia has likely removed the best equipment from its strategic reserve, while "worse" and "unsalvageable" equipment is still stored in depots.


Massicot also estimated that "remaining inventory will dwindle in the next couple of years" if Russia maintains its current pace of operations.

ISW noted that it could not independently verify this report.

At the same time, military analysts have noted that reports of Russian tank "production" in recent years have largely represented refurbished and upgraded tanks taken out of storage, rather than new production.

These estimates suggest that the Russian military is mostly using equipment from storage facilities to sustain combat operations, rather than compensate for losses on the battlefield with new production. Russia could face a shortage of equipment in the next few years if the current rate of losses remains the same or accelerates, and the current rate of new vehicle production remains unchanged.

To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 9 March:

  • Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted drone strikes targeting Rostov Oblast overnight on 8-9 March and may have struck a Russian aircraft plant refurbishing and modernising Russian A-50 long range radar detection aircraft.
  • Russian sources widely circulated footage of a Russian strike on 9 March to claim that Russian forces destroyed a Patriot air defence system in eastern Ukraine, although there has yet to be any confirmation of these claims.
  • US officials reportedly told CNN that Russia considered using "tactical or battlefield" nuclear weapons in Ukraine in 2022 – during the same time Russia conducted an intense information operation aimed at the West about Russia potentially using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine to deter Western support for Ukraine.
  • Senior Armenian officials stated that Armenia is considering seeking membership in the European Union (EU), against the backdrop of deteriorating Russian-Armenian relations.
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that Ukraine would be open to negotiations with Russia only after Ukraine and its partners develop a peace plan and as Türkiye continues to promote its own negotiation platform for the war in Ukraine.
  • Russian forces recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Avdiivka amid continued positional fighting along the entire frontline on 9 March.
  • Open-source researchers analysed satellite imagery and assessed that Russia has reportedly removed 25 to 40 per cent of its tank strategic reserves, depending on the model, from open-air storage facilities, although ISW cannot independently verify this report.

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