How many Russian tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine?

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24, 2022, has seen heavy losses of Russian military equipment, especially tanks. Accurately tracking Russian tank losses is challenging due to the fluid nature of the conflict, but estimates indicate Russia has lost between 500-1500 tanks so far.

Key Takeaways

  • Estimates of Russian tank losses range from around 500 to 1500 destroyed or captured.
  • Ukraine claims over 1500 Russian tanks have been destroyed, while Russia acknowledges around 500 lost.
  • The actual number likely falls somewhere between these claims.
  • Russia had an estimated 3000 tanks active in Ukraine before the invasion.
  • The loss of so many tanks is a major setback for Russia’s combat power.

What are the estimates for Russian tank losses?

There is no authoritative source tracking precise Russian tank losses in Ukraine. Both sides have incentives to exaggerate enemy losses. However, a range of governmental, academic, and open-source intelligence (OSINT) estimates indicate Russia has lost between 500-1500 tanks:

  • The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claims Russia has lost 1582 tanks as of November 7, 2022.
  • U.S. officials estimated in August that Russia had lost 1000+ tanks, approximately one third of their committed force.
  • The International Institute for Strategic Studies assessed in October that Russia has lost 500-600 tanks.
  • The Oryx blog, which tracks photo-verified Russian losses, has confirmed 529 Russian tank losses as of November 7, 2022.

The actual figure likely falls somewhere between Ukraine’s claim of over 1500 destroyed tanks and Russia’s acknowledgement of around 500 lost. Independent analysts assess Russia has probably lost around 1000 tanks when accounting for unverified and unreported losses.

How many tanks did Russia commit to the invasion initially?

Estimates indicate Russia had approximately 3000 operational tanks deployed on the borders of Ukraine prior to the invasion:

  • The International Institute for Strategic Studies assessed Russia had around 2,840 active tanks before the war.
  • U.S. officials estimated Russia committed over 80% of its pre-invasion tank force to operations in Ukraine.
  • This translates to approximately 2500-3000 tanks used in the initial invasion.

By comparison, Ukraine had around 900-1000 tanks before the war, many in poor condition. Russia held a significant numerical advantage in tanks at the outset of the conflict.

How significant are these Russian tank losses?

The loss of an estimated 500-1500 tanks represents a major blow to Russia’s armored combat capabilities in Ukraine:

  • Russia has lost between 15-50% of the tanks it originally committed to the invasion.
  • Many of these are relatively modern T-72B3 and T-80 variants, rather than old Soviet stocks.
  • Replacing these losses is challenging due to sanctions limiting Russia’s access to key components.
  • Surviving Russian tank crews suffer from lowered morale and combat effectiveness.
  • Ukraine has also captured a number of Russian tanks and employed them against their former operators.

These losses have contributed to Russia’s failure to achieve its initial objectives. They reduce Russia’s advantage in armored firepower going forward. While Russia maintains a numerical edge in tanks, continued losses at this pace are unsustainable.

Breakdown of Russian Tank Losses by Type

Photos and video evidence indicate the following approximate losses of Russian tanks by model:

Tank Model Estimated Losses
T-72B3 250 destroyed
T-80BV 150 destroyed
T-72B 100 destroyed
T-80 50 destroyed
T-90 20 destroyed
T-64 10 destroyed

The T-72B3 was Russia’s primary tank variant in Ukraine, with an estimated 600-700 committed at the start of the invasion. Likewise, the T-80BV formed a significant portion of Russia’s deployed tank fleet.

Notable Tank Losses

Some particularly notable Russian tank losses include:

  • 20+ tanks from Russia’s elite 4th Guards Tank Division destroyed in a failed river crossing early in the war.
  • 30+ tanks lost during the failed assault across open fields on Kyiv in the first week.
  • Over 50 tanks abandoned near Kharkiv due to fuel and supply shortages.
  • At least 15 T-90 tanks, Russia’s most advanced model, verified as destroyed.

Where are most Russian tanks being lost?

Russian tank losses have occurred across all major fronts, but some areas have seen more destroyed than others:

  • Northern Ukraine: Heavy losses occurred around Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Sumy during the initial failed Russian drive on the capital. Tanks were vulnerable on open roads.
  • Eastern Ukraine: The open steppes of the Donbas saw significant tank battles around Izyum. Urban combat in Severodonetsk and Lysychansk also took a toll.
  • Southern Ukraine: Attempted river crossings near Kherson and bottleneck bridges over the Dnieper inflicted damage on Russian armor.

In general, Russian tanks have proven vulnerable in urban combat zones and when maneuvering through mud, forests, and swampy terrain. Attacks on logistics lines have left tanks stranded and abandoned.

How have Russian tanks been destroyed?

Ukrainian forces have employed a variety of methods to destroy or disable Russian tanks:

  • Javelin and NLAW anti-tank missiles provided by Western allies have proven highly effective against Russian armor across different ranges.
  • Artillery strikes on staging areas and logistics lines have inflicted significant attrition.
  • Drone strikes using small loitering munitions have taken out advanced air defenses, allowing jets to engage armor.
  • Ukrainian tanks and anti-tank guns have also knocked out Russian counterparts in direct fire battles.
  • Well-placed ambushes and mines have destroyed tanks on the move.

Russian losses indicate failures in tactics, training, maintenance, and logistics have amplified the effects of Ukrainian weapons on invading tank crews.

Could Russia replace these tank losses?

Replacing hundreds of lost tanks presents a major challenge for Russia moving forward:

  • Heavy sanctions limit Russia’s access to advanced components and munitions needed for tank production.
  • The Russian military-industrial complex was already stretched thin before the war.
  • Loss of experienced crews further reduces the effectiveness of new tanks.
  • Surplus Soviet-era tanks in storage require extensive refurbishment to be combat ready.
  • Ukraine’s supporters are also providing advanced anti-tank weapons faster than Russia can replace armor.

While Russia retains a large total tank fleet on paper, its usable modern tank strength has been depleted. Ongoing losses will further erode Russia’s combat power over time.

Could Ukraine lose more tanks than Russia?

While Ukraine has also suffered tank losses during the conflict, its rate of attrition has been significantly lower than Russia’s:

  • Smaller number of tanks committed and strictly defensive use limits Ukraine’s tank losses.
  • Superior tactics, training, and morale help Ukrainian crews survive.
  • Western intelligence aids targeting of Russian units and avoiding losses.
  • Captured Russian tanks expand Ukraine’s depleted fleet.
  • Continued provision of anti-tank weapons constrains Russian armor.

Barring a massive Russian breakthrough, Ukraine is likely to maintain a favorable exchange ratio. Ukraine’s smaller tank fleet remains largely intact while Russia’s far larger force has suffered catastrophic damage.

How long can Russia sustain tank losses?

Continued high rates of attrition will become unsustainable for Russia:

  • If Ukraine’s claims of over 1500 tank losses are accurate, Russia has lost over 50% of committed forces.
  • Even at lower estimates of 500-1000 lost, Russia is rapidly depleting its modern tank strength.
  • Western estimates indicate Russia has committed over 80% of its usable tank fleet to Ukraine.
  • Ongoing losses of 100-200 tanks per month would exhaust many remaining units.
  • Surviving Russian crews will suffer from lowered morale as losses mount.

Russia cannot sustain this pace of tank losses indefinitely. The Kremlin faces hard choices on reinforcing a stalled campaign at heavy cost, or accepting failure of its objectives.

Could Ukraine win the tank war?

Ukraine has a path to exhaust and surpass Russia’s usable tank strength:

  • If Western aid continues, Ukraine can maintain access to advanced anti-tank missiles.
  • Creative ambush tactics can inflict disproportionate losses on Russian armor.
  • Ukraine is motivated to defend its homeland, while Russia’s will to fight may wane.
  • Captured Russian tanks expand Ukraine’s fleet for counteroffensives.
  • Sanctions limit Russia’s ability to replace tank losses long-term.

With sustained Western support, Ukraine has demonstrated the ability to destroy Russian armor at a pace Moscow cannot sustain. Ukraine has the potential to grind down Russia’s tank fleet and reclaim the initiative.


By any estimate, Russia has suffered extraordinary tank losses in Ukraine numbering in the hundreds or thousands. This has significantly eroded Russia’s advantage in armored firepower and represents a major setback to its invasion. While the precise number of tanks destroyed remains uncertain, Russia is losing modern tanks at an unsustainable rate. With the Kremlin unable to replace these losses, the “tank war” in Ukraine increasingly favors Ukraine’s defenders. Continued provision of advanced anti-tank weapons by Ukraine’s supporters could allow Kyiv to exhaust Russia’s strength advantage. Creative tactics and high morale also give Ukrainian crews an edge on the battlefield that could eventually allow them to win the battle for tanks in this conflict.

Leave a Comment