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Russian military force Wagner in Ukraine fights with new T-90M tanks near Bakhmut

The Russian mercenary group Wagner deployed in Ukraine is equipped with the latest generation of Russian-made main battle tank T-90M. Citing information reported by the Russian journalist Alexander Simonov on its Telegram account, the Wagner group is deployed around the city of Bakhmut with T-90M tanks.
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Members of Wagner Group use latest generation of Russian-made main battle tanks T-90M to fight Ukrainian forces near the city of Bakhmut.(Picture source TelegramAlexander Simonov)

On December 7, 2022, the Army Recognition editorial team reported that Russia delivers a new batch of 200 T-90M Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to the Lugansk People's Republic (LNR or LPR) Pro-Russian military forces.

The military forces of the Wagner Group is deployed in Ukraine during the war in the Donbas region, where it aided separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics from 2014 to 2015.

In December 2022, U.S. Pentagon's John Kirby claimed Wagner group has 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, including 10,000 contractors and 40,000 convicts. Although others put the number of recruited prisoners at more than 20,000, with the overall number of PMCs (Private Military Companies) present in Ukraine estimated at 20,000.

Russian and some Western observers believe that the organization does not actually exist as a private military company but is in reality a disguised branch of the Russian MoD (Ministry of Defense) that ultimately reports to the Russian government.

Russian mercenary firm The Wagner Group since this summer has been trying, and so far failing, to capture the town of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region. For Wagner, Bakhmut is a symbol. In seizing the ruins of the town which lies 16 km southwest of Russian-occupied Severodonetsk one of Donbas’s bigger cities Wagner apparently aims to establish itself as an alternative to the regular Russian army.

As of late 2022, following Ukraine's Kharkiv and Kherson counteroffensives, the Bakhmut front became the epicenter of the war, being one of the few front lines in Ukraine where Russia remained on the offensive. Attacks on the city intensified in November 2022 as assaulting Russian forces were reinforced by units redeployed from the Kherson front, together with newly mobilized recruits.

The Wagner group operates in support of Russian interests, receives military equipment from the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD), and uses installations of MoD for training. By delivering its latest generation of T-90M MBTs to the Wagner group, the Russian army wants to give maximum firepower to the Wagner soldiers who have a great experience in war and combat. Its contractors have reportedly taken part in various conflicts around the world—including the civil wars in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, and Mali, often fighting on the side of forces aligned with the Russian government.

Russian military force Wagner in Ukraine fights with new T 90M tanks near Bakhmut 925 002
A Russian T-90M main battle tank was spotted in November 2022 somewhere in Svatovo, a city on the Krasna river in the Luhansk Oblast region of Ukraine. (Picture source Twitter account The Dead District)

The T-90M is the latest generation of Russian-made main battle tanks involved in combat in Ukraine. It is considered as one of the most protected tanks in the world, in fact, the tank is protected by the Relikt ERA (Explosive Reactive Armor) armor fitted at the front and on each side of the turret. The Relikt Explosive Reactive Armor is the most modern Russian ERA in widespread use and is claimed to be twice as effective as Kontakt-5.

The Relikt ERA has been known to be able to defeat the M1A2 Abrams' M829A3 Depleted Uranium APFSDS, nicknamed "super sabot" with a segmented penetrator which was meant to counter the Kontact-5 ERA. The T-90M is armed with one 125 mm 2A46M-4 smoothbore gun able to fire standard ammunition but also anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) Refleks NATO Code AT-11 Sniper-B.

The main 125 mm armament is stabilized and enables the T-90M to shoot on the move with a high probability of a first-round hit. The cannon has a maximum firing range of 3,000 m using APFSDS (Amor-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot) / HEAT (High-explosive anti-tank) or 4,000 m with HE (High Explosive) ammunition. The 9M119M Refleks is a laser beam riding, guided anti-tank missile developed in the former Soviet Union. The missile has a maximum firing range of 5,000 m at a speed of 350 m per second. It enables the tank to hit targets at twice the range of the 125mm shells. The tandem warhead can penetrate up to 900 mm of the latest generation of armor.

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