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Ukraine now probably has as many tanks as Russia

Da Vinci Wolves
Ukrainian Da Vinci and his Wolves stand before a trophy Russian tank in Luhansk Oblast. Photo: Da Vinci Wolves press service
Ukraine now probably has as many tanks as Russia
Article by: Volodymyr Dacenko
As Ukraine prepares to launch a counterattack, it has achieved a rare parity in tank numbers with Russia, thanks to the latter’s heavy casualties and the former’s growing Allied backing.

The balance of all types of armored forces has also shifted, from Russia outnumbering Ukraine sevenfold at the beginning of the full-scale war, to now having only a twofold advantage as of May 2023, Ukrainian analyst and Forbes columnist Volodymyr Dacenko estimates. However, Russia still has lots of soldiers, which is likely the main challenge Ukraine may face during the 2023 offensive.

As of May 2023, after 16 months of full-scale war against Ukraine, Russia has lost most of its advantage in ground military equipment.

In particular, Russia had 3,330 tanks before the invasion, as per the Military Balance. Within 14 months, Russia was able to produce, or remove from storage, more than 600 tanks.

At the same time, Oryx estimates Russian losses at 1,911 tanks. According to experts, Oryx losses cover 80% of total losses, Dacenko says. Therefore, total losses can amount to 2,400 tanks, leaving the available number of Russian tanks at 1,500.

Ukraine, in turn, had 858 tanks at the beginning of the war.

So far, at least 605 tanks have been delivered by the Allies (including about 90+ Leopard 2 and Challenger 2 tanks).

Another 80 Leopard 1s will arrive in June. Also, the Armed Forces of Ukraine captured at least 544 Russian tanks. This all adds up to a total of 2087 tanks for Ukraine.

While Oryx estimates visually verified Ukrainian losses at 495 tanks, the actual total losses for Ukraine may amount to 620 tanks. Thus, the available number of tanks is about 1,400. Although this is almost equal to the number of Russian tanks, Ukrainian tank forces are likely more advanced.

Since the war began, the Allies supplied Ukraine with 5,500 units of armored vehicles of various types.

This is double the 2,500 units that Ukraine had at the beginning of the full-scale war and results in a total of 8,000 armored units. Therefore, even with about 1,500 losses, Ukraine now has much more resources than at the beginning of the war or in autumn 2022. Russian power, in turn, decreased from 16,650 armored vehicles to about 12,000.

This still gives Russia a twofold advantage over Ukraine, but it is not a sevenfold advantage anymore, as it used to be at the beginning of the war.

Similarly, and even more optimistic for Ukraine, are the statistics about artillery systems.

Russia has lost about 30% of its pre-war artillery power, while Ukraine gained almost 30% more systems than it had in the beginning. The balance shifted from a threefold advantage for Russia, to a mere 1.5 times advantage.

Regarding manpower, Ukraine has tried to maintain the same level of half a million active troops, after a rapid mobilization in the spring 2022.

Russian forces, after a critical drop in manpower in autumn 2022, replenished forces with mobilized troops. But nearly half of the newly mobilized Russian troops already have been destroyed.

However, Russia can still mobilize more men. It remains questionable whether Ukraine will achieve a critical advantage in manpower soon, similar to the twofold advantage it had in autumn 2022.

The head of Ukraine’s Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, said in his recent interview that Russia had exhausted its offensive capabilities but still has a powerful defense. The main problem is the number of troops. Even poorly equipped, a brigade of 5,000 troops still creates a certain degree of defense.

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