Ukraine captures Russia’s elite T-90M in near-perfect condition in huge blow for Kremlin

Ukraine: Missiles fired from 10km away to destroy Russian tanks

The parading of the vehicle, which cost almost £4million to build, represents a significant symbolic victory for Ukrainian President – and will undoubtedly trigger alarm bells in Moscow. Separately, it has emerged is using other types of abandoned Russian tanks to turn the tables on by recapturing more territory.

The T-90M was found abandoned with one of the tracks missing but otherwise undamaged.

Ukrainian troops have previously destroyed another of the battle tanks in the conflict which followed Russia’s invasion on February 24, but this marks the first time one has actually been seized.

The success should enable Kyiv, and NATO allies, to reverse engineer the equipment to gain valuable insights into the technology which underpins it.

At the beginning of the war, Russia deployed Soviet-era tanks such as the T-72 and T-80, built more than four decades ago.

T90M tank

T90M: The capture of the tank is symbolic blow for Vladimir Putin (Image: GETTY/Defense of Ukraine)

T90M

T90M: The letter Z – a Russian victory symbol – was emblazoned on the side (Image: Defense of Ukraine)

However, they were susceptible to NATO-supplied anti-tank missiles and armed drones, with hundreds destroyed.

As a result, a small number of T-90Ms were brought in.

Sometimes referred as Proryv-3 (Breakthrough-3), the T-90M was unveiled five years ago, according to military-today.com, entering service two years later.

It uses a 2A46M 125mm smoothbore tank gun which is capable of firing armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS), high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT-FS), and high-explosive fragmentation (HE-FRAG) ammunition, and 9M119M Refleks anti-tank guided missiles.

Weighing in at 46.5 tonnes, each unit costs an estimated $4.5million (£3.96million).

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T90M

T90M: The vehicle will now be examined by Ukrainian experts (Image: Defense of Ukraine)

It also transpires that large numbers of T-72 tanks were dumped as Russian soldiers fled advancing Ukrainian troops sweeping through the Kharkiv Oblast.

US think-tank the Institute for the Study of War said: “A Russian source additionally noted that Ukrainian troops are strengthening their grouping in Kharkiv Oblast using captured Russian T-72 tanks, suggesting that the initial panic of the counter-offensive led Russian troops to abandon higher-quality equipment in working order, rather than the more damaged equipment left behind by Russian forces retreating from Kyiv in April, further indicating the severity of the Russian rout.”

Ukrainian troops are pressing east and are planning to force the Kremlin’s forces occupying the rest of the Donbas region back to Russia.

Ukraine’s armed forces regained control of the village of Bilohorivka and were preparing to retake all of Luhansk province from Russian occupiers, provincial Governor Serhiy Gaidai said.

The village is just 10km (six miles) west of Lysychansk city, which fell to the Russians after weeks of grinding battles in July.

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T90M

T90M: The tank was put into service in 2019 (Image: Defense of Ukraine)

T90M

T90M: The inside of the tank (Image: Defense of Ukraine)

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai: “There will be fighting for every centimetre.

“The enemy is preparing their defence. So we will not simply march in.”

More heavy weaponry is on its way, with Slovenia this week promising 28 tanks and Germany pledging four additional self-propelled howitzers.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has urged western nations to supply more weapons so his government can press ahead with its counteroffensive against Russian forces.

And President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to today urge UN nations to accelerate weapons and aid deliveries.

Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s President (Image: GETTY)

Meanwhile, General James Hecker, the top US Air Force commander for Europe, said on Monday Ukraine has shot down 55 Russian planes during the war, precluding Moscow from achieving air superiority.

However, Ukraine’s small air force lacks the capability to seize control either, creating a situation in which the two sides are embroiled in a prolonged casualty-producing struggle on the ground.

He added: “That’s what’s playing out in Ukraine right now. A lot of casualties because there’s not air superiority on either side of the house.”

The US has also provided Ukraine with HARM missiles that home in on enemy radar, which the Ukrainians are firing from their MiG-29 and Su-27 Soviet-era planes.

At least 80 percent of Kyiv’s air force is intact, according to Mr Hecker, who said that he speaks with the head of Ukraine’s air force every two weeks.

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin ordered his invasion on February 24 (Image: GETTY)

Russian naval commanders have moved submarines away from Crimea after Ukrainian attacks deep into the peninsula, British defence chiefs said on Tuesday.

They argued that the Russian president’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 was partly to ensure a base there for his Black Sea Fleet but this aim had now been weakened.

A spokesman said: “The command of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has almost certainly relocated its KILO-class submarines from their home port of Sevastopol in Crimea to Novorossiysk in Krasnodar Krai, southern Russia.

“This is highly likely due to the recent change in the local security threat level in the face of increased Ukrainian long-range strike capability. In the last two months, the fleet headquarters and its main naval aviation airfield have been attacked.

“Guaranteeing the Black Sea Fleet’s Crimea basing was likely one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motivations for annexing the peninsula in 2014. Base security has now been directly undermined by Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine.”