More protected and have better firepower: Ukrainian tankman tells about advantages of Western weapons
Currently, Ukrainian soldiers are using Soviet tanks on the battlefield. They are lighter, more maneuverable, but have much less protection and crew survival is lower
Espreso talked to tankers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces about the Western tanks that are being transferred to Ukraine.
At the end of March, Ukrainian soldiers will receive Western Leopard and British Challenger tanks. As Vadym Ustymenko, a tank platoon commander of the 25th separate airborne brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told Espreso, the tankers are currently working with Soviet weapons. These tanks are lighter, more maneuverable, but have much less protection and the chances of crew survival are much lower.
"So you can understand the absurdity of the equipment. The commander has a machine gun, but to fire it, he has to get out of the tank," says Vadym Ustymenko. I have had cases when the cover of the machine gun saved me from a shrapnel or a bullet, or a box of ammunition. The visibility of this tank is very poor. It's a good tank in terms of chassis, but as far as the turret is concerned, it's just a tank that prioritizes not the survival of the crew, but simply inflicting fire damage."
According to Ustymenko, modern weapons will be more difficult for our military. Tanks are armored, and therefore much heavier. But they have much greater protection and better firepower.
"Soviet tanks have a three-man crew and an automatic loading device, which is easier," adds Vadym Ustymenko. - "Because it is automatic.
"But when there is a hit to the tank, even from the side, then the shells of the ammunition package, which is placed throughout the tank, catch fire. So it flares up like a match. Whereas the Western vehicle has a place for the fourth person - the loader. He has the ammunition in a protected place and is isolated from the turret. These tanks have a higher priority in the survival of the crew.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the development of Russian tank building stopped. The T-90 is the old T-72, which is the worst of the Soviet tanks. It is the lightest and simplest tank possible. Because the Russian forces have this approach to war: the more tanks, the more massive the offensive. The Western school of tank building uses a completely different approach. Their schools are developing, electronics are improving, modernization is improving, and new guns, new shells are being developed, and these tanks are capable of destroying any Soviet tank with one shot."
The superiority of Western tanks is confirmed by tankers on the front line. Oleh, a tanker with one of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' brigades, also talks about safety. And this psychologically motivates the soldiers.
"This is a big psychological factor," says Oleh. "Because we are all human, but when the crew is trained according to the Western model and knows that they have a 98% survival rate in combat, even in close combat, it means a lot. We will go further. First of all, we are interested in protection. When you are working under fire and have time to work, and not run away when they start to cover you. And these vehicles provide active and passive protection."
Earlier, the US Congress called for an Abrams tank to be sent to Ukraine to encourage Germany to supply Leopard tanks.
Poland announced it was ready to provide Ukraine with 14 Leopard tanks and hoped that other NATO countries would follow suit and manage to assemble at least an armored brigade.
On January 14, Rishi Sunak confirmed during a phone conversation with Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Britain would provide Ukraine with Challenger 2 tanks.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said his country was ready to participate in the supply of tanks to Ukraine.
The Netherlands may buy 18 Leopard 2 tanks that were leased from Germany and transfer them to Ukraine as part of a tank coalition.
French officials are considering the possibility of transferring their own Leclerc battle tanks to Ukraine to provide Berlin with a common platform for Leopard 2 deliveries.
On January 24, the Wall Street Journal published news that the Biden administration was leaning toward sending a significant number of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine.
On January 25, it was announced that Ukraine would receive 14 Leopard 2 tanks from the Bundeswehr, and Germany allowed partner countries to provide Ukrainian defenders with German tanks from their own stocks.
At the same time, Spain changed its decision to provide Ukraine with heavy weapons to counter Russian aggression. Madrid may now send Leopard tanks to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.