Russia’s largest tank manufacturer may have run out of parts

March 22, 2022, 1:26 PM UTC

Sanctions imposed on Russia to cripple its economy may be starting to hurt its military capabilities. 

The country’s primary armored vehicle manufacturer appears to have run out of parts to make and repair tanks, according to a Facebook post by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Citing “available information,” it reported state-owned company Uralvagonzavod, which builds tanks such as the T-72B3, has had to temporarily cease production in Nizhny Tagil.

In addition to Uralvagonzavod, one of the largest tank manufacturers in the world with reportedly 30,000 employees last year, the Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant has also run out of foreign-made parts.

“The specified companies specialize in the manufacturing and repair of tanks, as well as other armored equipment needed by the Russian Federation armed forces,” the General Staff wrote in its Facebook post.

Western allies, including the United States and the European Union, have ordered a complete halt to the export of certain components like microchips to Russia as part of an escalation package of sanctions.

So-called dual-use goods have been banned, since they can be employed for both military as well as civilian applications.

“Our aim is to reduce the Kremlin’s capacity to wage war on its neighbor,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen explained earlier this month. 

It may be working. Halting the manufacture and repair of T-72B3s, as well as more advanced but less numerous T-80s and T-90s, could hobble Russia’s efforts to continue its advance across war-torn Ukraine.

Over the past 27 days since Putin’s invasion, Russian tank columns have been one of the main targets of drone strikes by Ukraine’s fleet of Bayraktar TB2s

They have also come under heavy fire from infantry personnel wielding shoulder-launched “fire and forget” Javelin missiles, as well as next-generation light anti-tank weapons (NLAWs) that can destroy or at least disable the tracked vehicles.

On Monday, the General Staff claimed Ukraine’s forces had eliminated 509 tanks in total, an estimate that Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, former commanding officer of U.S. Army Europe, seemed to share. 

Some tanks, either abandoned or out of fuel, have even been filmed being carted away by tractor-driving Ukrainian farmers.

Developments in Russia are however notoriously difficult to independently verify with any degree of certainty given Putin’s stranglehold over the media.

In a potentially inadvertent leak on Monday, a pro-Kremlin website published data from the Ministry of Defense citing nearly 9,900 Russian dead and over 16,000 wounded before the post was swiftly taken down

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