Espreso. Global

What is forcing Russia to buy back Soviet weapons, equipment worldwide

5 June, 2024 Wednesday

Russian special representatives are trying to negotiate with Sudan to buy back Soviet equipment, including tanks. Is Russia really running out of weapons?


Oleksandr Kovalenko, Ukrainian military and political observer of the Information Resistance group, writes about this in the Obozrevatel special project.

Recent reports have surfaced indicating that Russian special envoys are engaging in negotiations with Sudan to repurchase Soviet-era equipment, including tanks. Sudan, embroiled in civil strife since 2023, possesses a significant inventory of T-54/55 and T-72 tanks, along with their Chinese and Iranian variants. While this development might seem routine, it raises eyebrows given Moscow's intensified global efforts to reclaim Soviet-era armaments. Is Russia really running out of weapons?

As early as 2022, Russia initiated efforts to procure ammunition and equipment for its military, anticipating a prolonged engagement in the war against Ukraine, contrary to initial estimations of a resolution in 2-3 days. However, it was in 2023 that these endeavors gained momentum, particularly as the aggressor country sought to acquire old Soviet and Russian weaponry and equipment dispersed over the preceding three decades across Asia, Africa, and even Latin America.

“The information about current attempts of Russians to acquire weapons in Sudan contradicts the propaganda reports of the Russian media, which claim that the country's military-industrial complex is operating at unprecedented levels and production volumes are increasing daily. If these claims were true, it seems unlikely that Russia would be seeking old Soviet equipment to purchase around the world,” the article states.

Roughly 90% of the equipment dispatched by the Russian military-industrial complex to the Ukrainian combat zone isn't newly manufactured but rather refurbished old Soviet equipment sourced from warehouses and storage facilities. As the full-scale war in Ukraine enters its third year, Russia's inventory of Soviet-era equipment has notably diminished. With the rapid pace of both destruction and simultaneous restoration, the depletion of stockpiles has intensified.


The main Russian companies engaged in tank production and restoration include:

  • Uralvagonzavod: Specializing in the restoration and modernization of T-72 tanks, as well as small-scale production of T-90s.
  • Omsktransmash: Focused on the restoration and modernization of T-80 tanks.
  • 103 APC Repair Plant: Specializes in the restoration and modernization of T-62 tanks.
  • 61 APC Repair Plant: Engaged in the restoration and modernization of T-72 and T-80 tanks.
  • 163 APC Repair Plant: Specializes in the restoration and modernization of T-72 tanks.

Prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Russia supplied the army with 300 to 400 tanks per year, which were not newly manufactured but repaired, modernized, and restored.

Presently, the Russian military-industrial complex averages 350-400 tanks per month in terms of restoration, modernization, production, and repair. Of these, only a company of T-90 tanks is allocated to Russian forces, with the remainder being other categories. Approximately 100 tanks are repaired after sustaining damage, primarily at repair centers.

As of early 2024, Russia's warehouses and storage centers held the following tanks:

  • T-90A and T90C: Up to 100 tanks.
  • T-72: About 1,500 tanks of varying repairability.
  • T-80: Approximately 800 units of varying repairability.
  • T-62: Up to 600 units.
  • T-54/55: Up to 600 tanks of varying repairability.

In total, there are 3,600 tanks in relatively repairable condition in storage.

Considering the current intensity of hostilities and the ongoing loss dynamics of armored vehicles by Russian forces, Russia possesses about a year's worth of repairable tank stocks. However, it's crucial to note the varying degrees of suitability for repair, as only vehicles deemed capable of swift restoration have been withdrawn from storage since 2022. Equipment requiring more time and resources for repair remains in warehouses and storage centers.


Russia is both restoring armored fighting vehicles from stockpiles and producing them in full. The main enterprises involved in these processes are:

  • Kurgan Machine-Building Plant;
  • Volgograd Tractor Plant;
  • Arzamas Machine-Building Plant.

In addition, a number of enterprises are modernizing products that are no longer in production. For example, the Rubtsov Machine-Building Plant is upgrading the IFV-1 to the IFV-1AM Basurmanin modification with the installation of a combat module from the APC-82A, a radio station of the R-168 type, and a software and hardware complex for internal communications equipment.

Prior to the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military-industrial complex supplied a total of 350-450 units of new, restored, repaired, and modernized products to the troops every year. However, from 2020 to 2021, a record number of APCs were transferred - more than 700, of which at least 300 were decommissioned and modernized IFVs-2.


The Russian military-industrial complex is primarily focused on restoring artillery systems from Soviet-era stockpiles, accounting for over 90% of efforts. The production of new artillery systems constitutes only a small fraction of those supplied to the combat zone.

Presently, Soviet-era artillery stocks in Russia, categorized as "commissioned" and "in storage," approximate as follows:

  • D-20 (152-mm): Approximately 100 in commission, with around 1,000 in storage.
  • D-30 (122-mm): Roughly 450 in commission, with about 4,000 in storage.
  • Msta-B (152 mm): About 450 in commission, with around 550 in storage.
  • Giatsint-B (152 mm): Approximately 100 in commission, with roughly 1,000 in storage.
  • Gvozdika 2S1 (122-mm): Around 400 in commission, with approximately 1,200 in storage.
  • Acacia 2S3 (152 mm): About 700 in commission, with around 800 in storage.
  • Giatsint 2S5 (152-mm) self-propelled gun: Approximately 150 in commission, with about 500 in storage.
  • MSTA-S 2S19 (152-mm): Roughly 400 in commission, with about 150 in storage.
  • Pion 2S7 (203-mm) self-propelled gun: About 100 in commission, with roughly 100 in storage.
  • Nona-S 2S9 (120-mm) self-propelled gun: Around 300 in commission, with approximately 500 in storage.
  • Nona-SVK 2S23 (120-mm) self-propelled gun: About 30 in commission, with none in storage.
  • Tyulpan 2S4 (240-mm) self-propelled gun: Approximately 30 in commission, with around 150 in storage.

This list excludes 120-mm mortars like 2B11, 82-mm BM-37, 100-mm MT-12 Rapira anti-tank gun, 85-mm D-44 divisional gun, among others. The storage category indicates the quantity tentatively suitable for restoration, capable of being brought to a combat-ready state.

In essence, Russia currently maintains a comparable number of guns in storage to those destroyed since 2022. However, there's been a decline in the quality of the artillery being restored, despite the quantity being sustained.

Oleksandr Kovalenko believes there is a reason why Russia has been busy lately looking for countries willing to sell it Soviet-era equipment. There is a clear depletion of Soviet-era stocks in warehouses and storage centers, as well as a deterioration in the quality of what remains.

“In the third year of the full-scale war, Russia's potential, which some experts called infinite, has been exhausted. This is well understood in the high offices of the Kremlin, which is why they are trying to convince the world of the opposite by all possible means - to impose the idea that the Russian army is capable of fighting for a long time if it is not brought to the table for peace talks. Of course, on its own terms,” military and political observer writes.

Kovalenko concludes that Russia needs peace talks more than ever, because in a year's time, there will be categories of equipment that it will not be able to fight with the current intensity, and it will start losing them in the red, even without the possibility of compensating for losses to zero.

Read also:
  • News
2024, Monday
24 June
Woman killed as Russia shells village in Kherson region
Germany declares it will not deport unemployed Ukrainian refugees
Russian forces strike Pokrovsk with Iskander missiles: 4 civilians killed, 34 injured
North Macedonia's new government vows support for Ukraine
Russian forces use chemical munitions against Ukrainian army 715 times in May
Ukraine may receive €2.5 billion in profits from Russian assets - EU's Borrell
Ukraine assesses risk of Belarusian army's sudden inspection near border
EU announces new 14th package of sanctions against 116 Russian individuals and entities
German Federal Council President Schwesig arrives in Kyiv
ECtHR begins delivering judgments in cases against Russia
Exposions in Sevastopol is another reminder that Crimea is Ukraine - Ukrainian MP
Why Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure won’t help it win war
Ukraine's General Staff reports 62 firefights, active Russian attacks in Siversk and Pokrovsk sectors
Attacks on Russian refineries won't shift war's tide, but will have military impact – Ukraine's spy chief
Russian troops conduct small group assaults in Horlivka direction - Ukrainian serviceman Iyevlyev
Russia will win only if Ukrainians give it this victory
Pokrovsk direction is top priority for Russian army - military expert Zgurets
Russian army attacks Odesa with missiles, causing casualties
US, South Korea, and Japan condemn North Korea's military ties with Russia, urge return to negotiations
Ukraine to receive first batch of ammunition under Czech initiative by late June
Russia relocates Tu-95MS bombers at Engels airfield every five hours fearing Ukraine’s attacks
Ukrainian forces deny Russia seizing Novooleksandrivka in Pokrovsk direction
Russia places military facilities near civilian areas in Crimea: ISW explains why
Russia loses 12 tanks, 51 artillery systems and 1,300 soldiers in one day of war in Ukraine
2024, Sunday
23 June
Main task of next NATO Secretary General is to expand Alliance - Polish politician
India imports record amount of oil from Russia in May – media
Russia responds to Ukrainian strike on Crimea
Russian troops intensify advances in Kupyansk and Pokrovsk directions - Ukraine's General Staff
US support allows Ukraine to strike into Russian territory, disrupting Kharkiv offensive - media
Ukrainian general assesses chance of Defense Forces' counteroffensive
Ukrainian forces strike Russian motorized rifle regiment’s command post: video
South Korea to lift any restrictions on aid to Ukraine if Russia provides precision weapons to North Korea
Explosions rock Sevastopol: Russia claims downing 4 ATACMS missiles, 2 dead
Vietnam calls U.S. strategic partner after Putin's visit
Work or go home: German opposition urges deportation for unemployed Ukrainian refugees
Intensification of Russian attacks in Donetsk region may indicate start of summer offensive – ISW
Partisans in Russia burn relay box on Rostov-on-Don to Mariupol railway
EU membership negotiations: Choice between two evils
Ukraine’s intelligence reports increase in Russian servicemen surrendering through I Want to Live Project
Russian troops attack Kyiv region with missiles, injuring civilians
More news