Following North Macedonia’s decision to ship T-72 tanks to Ukraine, Moscow has criticized the nation and called the move a “gross mistake” that would only encourage what it views as the Kyiv regime’s criminal activity.
Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on July 2 said, “We consider this (sending of tanks) a major mistake on the part of North Macedonia.”
“Being driven by the spirit of its allegiance to NATO, Skopje has been playing a role in pumping Ukraine with weapons, thus fostering the Kyiv regime’s criminal activity against Donbas civilians,” Zakharova emphasized.
She urged those who support democracy to refrain from escalating the situation. On July 29, Serbian National Television reported that the Defense Ministry of North Macedonia had authorized the shipment of T-72 tanks to Ukraine.
The top brass of Macedonia claimed to have given Ukraine “third-generation” tanks that were part of a unit about to be dismantled.
The T-72s were reportedly a part of the tank battalion being modernized by North Macedonia, a Balkan country. A tarpaulin-covered military convoy was seen in a 30-second video on various social media platforms. According to reports, the convoy was heading to Kyiv.
#Ukraine: North Macedonia 🇲🇰 decided to donate its tanks to Ukraine – this was confirmed by the country's Ministry of Defense.
Macedonia possesses ~30 T-72A tanks, with at least 8 of them known to be currently being transported to Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/VhEHoff6gw
— 🇺🇦 Ukraine Weapons Tracker (@UAWeapons) July 29, 2022
According to the defense ministry, North Macedonia’s initiative to acquire cutting-edge weapons and equipment made the Soviet-era tanks redundant, which prompted the decision to give T-72 tanks to Ukraine.
The delivery of T-72 tanks to Ukraine was the most recent in a string of donations made by its allies to fend off an invasion by Russia. In July, Lithuania displayed a crowdfunded military drone later delivered to Kyiv to improve its fighting capacity.
The US, which has provided Ukraine with the most significant donations since the war started on February 24, recently announced that it would send 580 Phoenix Ghost kamikaze drones as part of an additional $270 million security assistance package.
The T-72 Tank
The outdated T-72 main battle tanks of North Macedonia are part of a family of Russian main battle tanks that went into production in 1969. In 2000, during the National Liberation Army uprising by Ali Ahmeti, Moscow gave these tanks to Skopje.
The armored vehicles can be equipped with a 125-millimeter 2A46M cannon and a 7.62-millimeter PKT coaxial machine gun.
The hydraulically assisted transmission of the T-72’s diesel engine enables the vehicle to move at a top speed of 47 miles per hour (75.6 kilometers per hour), with a maximum range of 290 miles (466 kilometers).
Nearly 18,000 tanks were produced before the breakup of the Soviet Union, and they have been distributed to about 30 different nations. However, the T-72’s upgrade package to the modern T-72B3 version is its most vital point.
The T-72, which debuted in 1973, has undergone numerous updates, resulting in the T-72B3 and T-72B3M models currently available and are considered third-generation tanks.
Since 2014, Russian forces have been using the updated T-72B3M, and some have engaged in combat in Syria and Ukraine. The Iraqi military bought 2,000 of the T-72S (export variant) in 2009 and was its largest customer.
Modern Kontakt-5 explosive reactive armor, also on the T-90A, serves as the T-72B3’s primary form of defense. Additionally, the T-72 has a new steering system that improves mobility over the standard T-72.
The T-72 was designed to support infantry, not necessarily as a hunter-killer, but thanks to the T-72B3 upgrade, it has achieved this status. Like most Russian tanks, the T-72B3’s turret’s top armor is a weakness that leaves it open to attack from American Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The top-notch Kalina fire-control system, which is relatively new, has a ballistic computer and an automatic tracker of enemy tanks. It has an enhanced thermal sight and laser rangefinder. It can fire modern weapons like high-explosive rounds and sabots that can penetrate armor.
The vehicle is outfitted with a V-84 liquid-cooled four-stroke multi-fuel diesel engine that generates 618kW (840hp), resulting in a power-to-weight ratio of 13.8kW/t. The tank also includes planetary transmission with a hydraulic servo-control system, running gear with an RMSH track, and torsion bar suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers.
The countries that have acquired this tank are Algeria, Bulgaria, Cuba, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Libya, Myanmar, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Syria, and Yugoslavia.