“An elite Russian tank unit formed to defend Moscow and lead any war with Nato has been “severely degraded” by the war in Ukraine, according to British intelligence.
Moscow’s 1st Guards Tank Army – believed to be made up of at least 500 tanks and other combat vehicles – could take years to rebuild itself as the pride of the Russian military’s mobile ground forces, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday.
From the start of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Western officials and analysts have observed the so-called 1st GTA’s failure to capture cities and territories key to the Russian leader’s aim of toppling Kyiv.
“1st GTA suffered heavy casualties in the initial phase of the invasion and had not been fully reconstituted prior to the Ukrainian counter-offensive in Kharkiv,” the MoD said in its daily intelligence briefing.
And as Ukraine’s armed forces launched a lightning counter-offensive in the north-western region, Moscow’s celebrated tank formation was once again found floundering.
“Elements of the Russian forces withdrawn from Kharkiv Oblast over the last week were from the 1st Guards Tank Army, which are subordinate to the Western Military District,” the MoD added.
“1st GTA had been one of the most prestigious of Russia’s armies, allocated for the defence of Moscow, and intended to lead counter-attacks in the case of a war with Nato.”