Putin unleashes ‘Terminator’ tanks in Ukraine’s Donbas amid Russian military setbacks


Russia has reportedly deployed armoured fighting vehicles known as the Terminator tanks in Ukraine as Moscow suffered military losses in the key Donbas region.

“Together with tank platoons, BMPTs [nicknamed Terminator] are involved in the fire destruction of Ukrainian positions, armored vehicles, and crews of anti-tank missile systems,” a military source told state-owned news agency Ria Novosti on Wednesday.

The military vehicles, which can engage multiple targets at once and on different height levels, were purportedly seen rolling into Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region in several videos.

The tank support combat vehicles or BMPTs have established their utility against the enemy and would enable the Russian army to form tactics and determine their place in armoured groups, the source said. Experience on the battlefield with Ukraine has shown that Terminators are required to intensify Russia’s combat stability, they added.

The vehicles, which were first demonstrated in 2013 at the Russian Arms Expo and then at the Victory Day parade in 2020, were deployed in war-torn Syria in 2017 after its president Bashar Assad met with Russian chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov.

The upgraded BMPT-72, which is reportedly being used in Ukraine, was developed by Russian machine company Uralvagonzavod. It consists of two 30mm 2A42 cannons, anti-tank missile launchers with a laser guidance system, grenades, auto-cannon and machine gun. These machines were made to support tanks in urban areas.

The tanks are used to provide close support to other fellow tanks and armored fighting vehicles during battles and to thwart the attacks from enemy helicopters, drones or other low-flying airplanes.

Terminator tank support fighting vehicle is displayed during the Victory Day military parade in Russia in 2020

(Host Photo Agency via Getty)

The Terminators are equipped with explosive reactive armour, which has the capability to send a blast outwards when hit to limit the damage.

It is not clear where or how many BMPTs have been deployed. But videos on social media purportedly showed the tanks in the Donbas region, which is becoming the centre of the Russian military’s frustration as the Ukrainian army has repelled multiple attempts by the enemy forces to claim cities.

In a high-profile incident last week, the Russian army lost up to 50 vehicles — at least one batallion’s worth of equipment — after potentially thousands of troops came under fire from Ukrainian artillery, as it blew up a pontoon bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river. The estimates of losses are based on Ukrainian officials’ statements and satellite and drone imagery.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg also noted that Russia’s advances in the eastern Donbas region has “stalled”.

Despite gains in Mariupol, which is on the verge of falling completely into Moscow’s control, Russian troops had to retreat from Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. Forces were pushed back to their border 40km away along with their artillery.

According to Ukraine’s defence ministry, Russia has lost almost 28,000 troops, which is 20 per cent of the force it had since launching a “special military operation” in February, and about 60 per cent of the equipment.

“Russia’s strategic defeat is already obvious to everyone in the world,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky declared last week.

“It’s just that Russia doesn’t have the courage to admit it yet… Therefore, our task is to fight until we achieve our goals in this war. Free our land, our people and establish our security,” he said.

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