Moscow is likely to consider deploying a small number of its cutting-edge T-14 Armata main combat tanks in Ukraine, a step that could be viewed as a high-risk decision considering reports of manufacturing issues, the British MoD has claimed in its latest update.
In its January 19 intelligence update, the Ministry of Defense in London alleged that “Russia is likely considering deploying a small number of its new T-14 Armata main battle tanks in Ukraine.”
According to the ministry, the advanced T-14 tanks would be deployed in limited numbers and primarily for propaganda purposes, as Moscow is only believed to have a force of “low tens” of them.
The MoD shared a satellite image from late December that depicted a few T-14s at a training facility in southern Russia connected with pre-deployment activities for the Ukraine operation.
This came after state-owned Russian media claimed that T-14s were getting ready for deployment. It’s unknown, though, whether Russia has introduced the type in Ukraine, the MoD said.
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In late December 2022, imagery showed T-14s on a training area in southern Russia: the site has been associated with pre-deployment activity for the Ukraine operation. pic.twitter.com/YzUnQ0147p
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) January 19, 2023
Given the doubts about combat capability, the British MoD believed that the action was purely for propaganda and would be a high-risk option for Russia.
The EurAsian Times reported in December 2022 that the images and videos of T-14 Armata, Russia’s most sophisticated Main Battle Tank (MBT), had surfaced online. At the time, Russian media claimed that the tank had reportedly been seen inside the “Special Military Operation” zone.
According to Russian media, the T-14 operators were allegedly seen on camera practicing combat coordination in the environment of a “special military operation,” which is Moscow’s formal moniker for its invasion of Ukraine.
The British MoD also questioned the combat capability of this sophisticated Russian tank, claiming that after eleven years of development, the program has been plagued by delays, a reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing issues.
The briefing added that Moscow would need to modify its logistical system to accommodate the T-14 because it is bigger and heavier than existing Russian tanks. Furthermore, the vehicle’s production is presumably only in the low tens, and Russian military commanders are unlikely to trust it in battle.
Modern Tanks To Crowd The Battlefield?
The latest update from the UK MoD comes as Western nations race to provide Ukraine with cutting-edge main combat tanks. According to some experts, the latest MoD update might have been published to set the stage for the UK to send Challenger II tanks to Ukraine.
Guy Plopsky, a Defense Analyst, disputes the British MoD’s assessment, arguing that if the T-14 is deployed, it will probably be mostly for testing it in actual combat rather than for propaganda.
“Deploying the T-14 entails many risks (photos of a destroyed T-14 won’t help Russian propaganda),” he added.
Meanwhile, Poland and Finland have stated their intention to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. NATO countries have stockpiled approximately 2,300 Leopard 2 tanks in various states of repair. However, approval from Germany, where the Leopard was manufactured initially, is required to re-export them.
A German government source claims that if the United States agrees to provide its tanks, Germany will permit sending German-made tanks to Ukraine to aid in its defense against Russia.
The US officials are adamant that Washington does not currently have plans to send US-made tanks to Ukraine. They argue that doing so would place an enormous logistical burden on Kyiv and make tank maintenance too challenging.
Samuel Ramani, an Associate Fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said, “Given that the entire fleet is estimated to be in the low tens and production problems have marred the T-14’s rollout, they are unlikely to make a major military impact.”
Ramani asserted they could influence Germany’s views over sending Leopards to Ukraine.
The officials added that equipping Ukraine with German-built Leopard tanks made the most sense because several countries already possessed them and were willing to transfer them immediately.
With freshly announced military weapons, the US intends to disrupt the dynamic of grinding combat and near-frozen front lines in Ukraine, injecting new momentum into Kyiv’s campaign against Russian troops.
The top policy adviser for the Pentagon, Colin Kahl, stated that the Pentagon was still unprepared to respond to Kyiv’s requests for gas-guzzling M1 Abrams main combat tanks.
Officials anticipate that Britain’s announcement to send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks and extra artillery assistance to Ukraine will pave the way for Germany to follow the lead.