Vladimir Putin is desperately emptying Russian museums of obsolete tanks to repurpose them for his creaking war effort, it has emerged.
Outdated Soviet-era T-62s are “modernized” at a 24-hour factory in Chita, Siberia, in alarming footage.
The push to retrofit the decades-old tanks highlights the desperation of Putin’s military machine – while supplying Ukraine with state-of-the-art Western tanks.
Some of the tanks being revamped at the 103rd Plant may be 60 years old and date back to when Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev ruled the Soviet Union.
“It is sad that the number of military museum exhibits will be reduced,” said one report.
Vladimir Putin is desperately emptying Russian museums of obsolete T-62 tanks (displayed in a military history museum in Russia) to repurpose them for his creaking war effort in Ukraine, soon to encounter modern Western war machines on the battlefield
Russia stopped production of the T-62 12 years ago, but may still have 2,500 in stores and museums.
But war buff Lieutenant General Andrey Gurulev, 55, a prominent TV personality, Putin propagandist and MP, said there was method in the rearrangement of the tanks.
During a visit to the factory, which is located in six time zones east of Moscow, he said: “Tanks over 50 years old are being transformed into modern normal machines capable of performing tasks and today’s front-line challenges. to cope.
‘Look at the finished products. A tank battalion has already been sent to the front,” he claimed, standing in front of some of the hardware.
He boasted, “These T-62 tanks are fully modernized.”
They installed new “motors, communication systems, control systems, thermal imaging cameras, dynamic active protection” in the obsolete tank shells, he said.
“So here’s a completely different tank for today that can work.”
Gurulev, a former tank commander and Putin loyalist who is now a member of the Russian parliament’s defense committee, said the converted combat machines were “no worse than modern ones.”
He said, ‘Our guys are dismantling them, finishing them and taking the turrets off. They completely dismantle the machines. All old units are deleted. New ones are installed, upgraded.’
To motivate them, workers at the factory have been given an increased salary – £750 a month – before unspecified bonuses.
Aging Soviet-era T-62s are “modernized” at a 24-hour factory in Chita, Siberia, in a video that emerged from Russia (pictured)
Pictured: Russian engineers work on T-62 tanks and other hardware as Vladimir Putin works to strengthen the military vehicles available to his armed forces in Ukraine
Pictured: A Russian T-62 tank is seen in a factory being refurbished for battlefield use
The tanks were first built in 1961, a further development of the T-55 series, and became the standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, remaining in reserve in many former USSR countries, and in the front lines for other countries.
In total, more than 22,700 T-62s were built and in 1973 it was replaced on the production lines by the T-72, which is still widely used in Russia and Ukraine.
Russia, as well as Ukraine, relies heavily on Ukraine’s Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which have been destroyed by the thousands in more than a year of fighting.
Russia has also deployed about 1,000 of its advanced T-90 tanks to Ukraine, compared to about 5,000 T-72s. The £4 million T-90 is said to be one of the best tanks in the world and has improved armor and missile protection systems – compared to the T-72 – which theoretically make it more difficult to destroy.
However, since Russia invaded Ukraine, countless T-90M Russian tanks have been destroyed by rocket launchers and Western Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
About 50 BMP-2 amphibious infantry fighting vehicles are also being repurposed for the war effort. These date from the 1980s.
The West sends Leopard 2 tanks made in Germany, Challenger 2 tanks from Britain and M1 Abrams tanks from the US.
After Ukraine’s advance in the second half of 2022, Kiev has focused on the defense for the past three months.
Meanwhile, Moscow has launched an offensive campaign with mobilized reservists and convicts recruited from prison as mercenaries, targeting the city of Bakhmut.
It is widely believed that Kiev is planning its own counterattack later in the spring, when the muddy ground dries up and when the hundreds of western armored vehicles and Challenger and Leopard main battle tanks arrive.
The tanks would have a major impact, said Leonid Khoda, commander of Ukraine’s 1st Tank Brigade fighting in the Donbas, comprising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions: “Everyone is waiting, including the 1st Tank Brigade.
Pictured: A T-62 tank in a military history museum in Russia. The tanks were first built in 1961, a further development of the T-55 series, and became the standard tank in the Soviet arsenal, and have remained in reserve in many former USSR countries
War fanatic Lieutenant General Andrey Gurulev (pictured), 55, a prominent state television personality, Putin propagandist and MP, said there was method in the rearrangement of the tanks
“Not long ago, we sent personnel to teach (Leopard) 2A6 to operate,” he told Reuters.
Ukraine says exhausting the Russian army now will help its counteroffensive later. But not every Western military analyst is convinced that Bakhmut is the best battlefield to take on the Russians.
“Bakhmut is no longer a good place to exhaust Russian troops,” tweeted Rob Lee, a US defense expert who visited Bakhmut this month.
“The turnover in Bakhmut is worse than elsewhere.”