Russia's newest army corps lost many of its tanks in an offensive because it simply copied tactics that failed in the past, UK intel says

A Ukrainian police officer takes cover in front of a burning building that was hit in a Russian airstrike in Avdiivka, Ukraine, Friday, March 17, 2023.
A Ukrainian police officer takes cover in front of a burning building in Avdiivka, Ukraine, on March 17.AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka
  • Russia's new army corps is losing tanks fast as it tries to encircle Avdiivka, the UK said.

  • Its losses likely come from it using "tactically flawed" methods that failed before, it added.

  • So Russia has made "marginal progress at the cost of heavy losses in armoured vehicles," it said.

Russia's newest army corps, less than a year old, is quickly losing tanks as it tries to take new ground in eastern Ukraine. That's because it's likely repeating tactics that have failed Russia's military in the past, according to UK intelligence.

The UK Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update Tuesday that Russia's 10th Tank Regiment, part of its new 3rd Army Corps, had "likely lost a large proportion of its tanks while attempting to surround Avdiivka from the south."

Avdiivka is a town in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, which Russia has recently made a priority, the Defense Ministry said.

But the ministry said Russia was making little progress there.

"Russian forces have made only marginal progress at the cost of heavy losses in armoured vehicles," it said.

The regiment's losses, the ministry said, are likely down to it copying flawed strategies that haven't previously worked for Russia.

"Tenth Tank Regiment's losses have likely largely been due to tactically flawed frontal assaults similar to those in other recent failed Russian armoured attacks, such as around the town of Vuhledar," it said.

A military vehicle drives through an area destroyed after a strike, in the city of Avdiivka, Donetsk Oblast, on March 18, 2023.
A military vehicle in Avdiivka on March 18.ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

Russia launched its offensive to try and take new territory from Ukraine over a month ago but has made few notable gains.

And the ministry's assessment suggests that Russia has failed to absorb lessons from the past.

The country in January deepened its monthslong efforts to capture the eastern Ukrainian town of Vuhledar, but heavy losses of Russian troops and tanks have been reported there.

Videos show Russian tanks and armored vehicles being blown up by mines and anti-tank missiles in and around Vuhledar.

According to the Defense Ministry, the 3rd Army Corps is the first major new formation that Russia has stood up to support its invasion of Ukraine.

The corps was formed in the summer, Forbes reported, after Ukraine pushed the fighting back to the east of the country.

Russia has failed to take any major territory since it was formed.

The Defense Ministry said that the 3rd Army Corps had been "particularly dogged by problems with ill-discipline and poor morale," referencing open-source accounts.

And it "still appears to display limited combat effectiveness," even though it likely received some training in Belarus, it added.

Russia has lost a large number of tanks since it launched its invasion in February 2022.

The Washington, DC, think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies said last month that Russia had likely lost more than 2,000 tanks in total.

Ukraine claimed that Russia lost 21 tanks in a single day earlier this month.

Russia has also been forced to rely on older tank models after newer tanks were destroyed. This includes an elite Russian unit fighting with 60-year-old T-62 tanks.

Ukraine, meanwhile, has started to receive advanced modern tanks from its allies as it prepares to launch a counteroffensive later this year.

Correction: March 28, 2023 — An earlier version of this story misstated the country estimated to have lost 2,000 tanks. Russia is thought to have lost that number of tanks, not Ukraine.

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