Russian forces appear to have destroyed a British-supplied Challenger 2 tank for the first time, after a suspected Ukrainian drone was shot down near one of Vladimir Putin’s residences this morning.
Video posted online shows what appears to be the Challenger 2 nearly destroyed – the first to have been destroyed in the conflict, after the UK donated 14 to Ukraine in March.
A Russian-installed official in Ukraine’s southern region of Zaporizhzhia said that a Challenger 2 had been set alight in fighting near the southeastern village of Robotyne.
Vladimir Rogov, said the tank belonged to the Ukrainian army’s 82nd brigade and was meant to have reached Crimea, annexed from Ukraine by Russia in 2014, but had been destroyed on what he claimed was the first line of Russian defence.
He posted a video on the Telegram messaging site showing the blackened tank burning by the road, as thick grey smoke billowed from it.
In March Ukraine thanked the UK for the “fantastic machines” after London donated 14 of the Challenger 2 main battle tanks.
Justin Crump, military analyst and CEO of Sibylline, confirmed that the wreckage showed a Challenger 2. “The gun, general turret shape and what looks to be oil drums on the back all match this type of tank. As the turret stayed intact, you can clearly see the thermal imagery system over the gun, which is unique to the Challenger 2,” he told Sky News.
A western defence source confirmed to the BBC the footage showed a Challenger 2 tank and that its crew had survived.
Hamish de Bretton Gordon, a former British tank commander, said it was the first time the tank had been hit by enemy fire.
It has not been confirmed exactly where the tank was destroyed.
The news emerged after the Russian defence ministry said it had brought down three drones targeting Moscow, including one that crashed near one of President Putin’s official residences north of the capital.
Russian officials said air defences had destroyed the drone, which crashed in the village of Zavidovo, where Mr Putin’s ‘Rus’ residence is located about 75 miles north of Moscow.
There was no suggestion that Mr Putin, whose main residence is the Novo-Ogaryovo estate west of Moscow, was in Zavidovo at the time.
The ministry also said drones had been intercepted in the Kaluga region and the Istra district near the capital.
Meanwhile, a defence think-tank has described how the Russian army is learning from Ukraine’s tactics, meaning Ukraine has been losing some of its battlefield advantage.
Russia’s troops were “actively learning” from Ukrainian forces during its counter-offensive – in a “concerning trend” that could significantly improve its Russia’s capabilities, a report added.
The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) said that the Russia army was adapting its methods, including increasing the density of minefields, dispersing its electronic warfare systems rather than concentrating them on major platforms, and increasing the use of laser-guided shells and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over indiscriminate shelling, as was favoured in the Soviet era, but which has meant Russia is running out of ammunition.
“The trend appears to be towards maximising accuracy and reducing the number of rounds necessary to achieve the desired outcome rather than resorting to saturation fire. This is a concerning trend, as over time it will likely significantly improve Russian artillery,” a report said. “The growth in the complexity, diversity and density of Russian UAVs is concerning.”
Ukraine has been losing some of its battlefield advantages as a result, the report added.