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Russia depleting up to 40% of its tank reserves

In a significant revelation, researchers using satellite imagery have analyzed Russia's withdrawal of 25 to 40% of its strategic tank reserves, depending on the model, from outdoor storage facilities. They estimate that the most effective equipment has likely been removed, leaving less efficient or irreparable materials behind.
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In February 2024, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the premises of Uralvagonzavod, Russia's leading manufacturer of main battle tanks. (Picture source: Russian MoD)

This trend suggests a possible reduction in inventory in the coming years if Russia continues at its current operational pace, relying more on refurbished and modernized equipment than on new production to support its combat operations. This situation poses a major challenge for the Russian military, which, according to estimates, could face a shortage of equipment in the coming years if the current rate of losses is maintained or accelerates, and if the pace of new vehicle production does not change.

However, some intelligence services maintain information that Russian production of military vehicles is increasing. The British Army Intelligence Services have recently highlighted a significant uptick in Russia's production of military vehicles and equipment throughout 2023.

This surge in production has been linked to strategic improvements and expansions across the defense industry, notably the increase of the workforce to around 3.5 million people, the implementation of extended work shifts, and the activation of previously unused production capabilities.

In parallel with these developments, military analysts have noted significant actions on the ground. Ukrainian forces reportedly conducted drone strikes targeting Rostov Oblast overnight on 8-9 March, and may have struck a Russian aircraft plant refurbishing and modernizing Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft. Russian sources widely circulated footage of a Russian strike on 9 March to claim that Russian forces destroyed a Patriot air defense system in eastern Ukraine, although there has yet to be any confirmation of these claims.

These findings come as significant developments have been reported on the ground, including Ukrainian drone strikes in Russian territory and discussions on the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia. On the front, Russian forces have recently made confirmed advances near Kreminna and Avdiivka, while positional fighting continues along the entire front.

Despite constant and growing international support, Ukraine struggles to fill the gap in modern military equipment and resources, complicating its ability to conduct sustained defensive operations. Logistical challenges, such as the supply of weapons and ammunition, as well as the protection of civilian infrastructure from attacks, remain concerning. It is also struggling to recruit men, and many report a significant drop in troop morale, as a new mobilization law is expected to come out soon.

The current situation highlights the challenges Russia could face regarding the availability of its military equipment in the coming months and years, underscoring the importance of new equipment production to maintain its operational capabilities. 

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