On May 17, the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense revealed that they had obtained official Russian documents proving that Russia’s 1st Tank Army had suffered huge losses in terms of tanks and troops in its invasion of Ukraine. It is important to note that SOFREP cannot independently verify the legitimacy of these Russian documents. However, there is circumstantial evidence to believe the massive losses of the Russian 1st Tank Army as reported by independent, open-source data collectors who are monitoring military equipment losses in Ukraine.

According to the documents obtained by Ukrainian intelligence, the papers reveal that the 1st Tank Army had incurred casualties of some 409 troops, killing 61 and wounding 209, with 44 missing as of March 15. Ninety-six troops were also taken as POWs.

“As of March 15, 2022, the total losses of 1 Russian tank army were 409 people. Ukrainian soldiers eliminated 61 and wounded 209 invaders. Only in the first two weeks of the war, 44 Russian tankers disappeared, and 96 occupants from this army decided to save their lives and surrendered,” the Ukrainian Main Intelligence Directorate said in a Facebook post.

“At the same time, the defenders of Ukraine were destroyed and captured 308 units of combat equipment from the said army of occupiers,” they added. The document also indicates that the 2nd Motorized Rifle Division’s 1st Tank Regiment lost 45 T-72B3M. This would mean that the 1st Tank Regiment would have lost over half of its tanks as the regiment supposedly had 93 units.

The document also reveals the grim number of losses of the Russian 4th Tank Division, with the 12th Tank Regiment losing 18 T-80Us. The 13th Tank Regiment also reportedly lost 47 T-80UE tanks, and the 423rd Motorized Rifle Regiment lost 6 T-80BVs. Furthermore, the 27th Motorized Rifle Brigade had lost 9 T-90A tanks. There is a bit of a mismatch beween the number of casualties to crews versus tanks.  This could be due to a number of crews abandoning their vehicles allowing them to be captured or represent tanks destroyed at night when the crews would not be inside them.

When we compare this to the numbers Oryx has uncovered, it shows that 27 T-80Us have been destroyed (67 in total have been either destroyed, abandoned, captured, or stripped), while they record only five T-80UEs either destroyed or captured, with some 13 T-80BVs destroyed (28 either destroyed or captured). Some eight T-90As were recorded to be destroyed as well (19 T-90As were either destroyed, abandoned, or captured). Unfortunately, we could not find data for the T-72B3M.

SOFREP has earlier reported that the 1st Guards Tank Army is one of the more elite units of the Russian forces, historically known for obliterating the Nazis’ 1st Panzer Division in World War II. Under this army are the following: 60th Command Brigade, 2nd Guards Motor Rifle ‘Tamanskaya’ Division, 4th Guards Tank ‘Kantemirovskaya’ Division, 47th Tank Division (formerly the 6th Tank ‘Częstochowa’ Brigade), 27th Guards Motor Rifle’ Sevastopol’ Brigade, 112th Guards Missile’ Novorossiysk’ Brigade, 288th Artillery’ Warsaw’ Brigade, 49th Missile Air Defense Brigade, 96th ISTAR Brigade, 20th NBC Defense Regiment, and 69th Logistics Brigade.

This army is known to be led by Lt. Gen. Sergey Aleksandrovich Kisel (who was later dismissed) and was seen to be operating in Trostyanets, Lebedyn, Shadurka, Bobryk, and Chupakhivka in the early onset of the war.

A destroyed Russian T-80U tank from the 4th Guards Tank Division somewhere in Sumy (Ukraine Weapons Tracker). Source: https://twitter.com/UAWeapons/status/1498625113260011520?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1498625113260011520%7Ctwgr%5E%7Ctwcon%5Es1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fsofrep.com%2Fnews%2Fukrainians-obliterate-the-elite-russian-4th-guards-tank-division-15-miles-from-russian-border%2F
A destroyed Russian T-80U tank from the 4th Guards Tank Division somewhere in Sumy (Ukraine Weapons Tracker/Twitter)

Why exactly was Lt. Gen. Kisel relieved of his duties? Well, SOFREP also reported on March 28 that the elite Russian 4th Guards Tank Division was completely obliterated in the Battle of Trostyanets in Sumy, just 15 miles from the Russian border by the Ukrainian 93rd Mechanized Brigade.

Trostyanets is one of the towns that had been in Russian control for around 25 days till morale issues started hitting these forces up. Well-known issues of the Russian forces have been documented by journalists, which include logistics and supply issues, as well as not wanting to fight Ukrainians as they were reportedly lied to by their superiors. Conscripts also make up a large majority of their invasion forces, which likely contributed to the lack of discipline and fighting spirit of the Russian invasion forces. With these issues plaguing them and with the Ukrainians being armed with the top Western anti-armor and anti-tank weapon systems such as the NLAWs and Javelins, the 4th Guards Tank Division was relatively a sitting duck if they were hit with fuel supply issues.

A Russian tank with its turret blown clean off (Michael MacKay). Source: https://twitter.com/mhmck/status/1526212001428647937
A Russian tank with its turret blown clean off (Michael MacKay/Twitter)

Perhaps worse, the 4th Guards Tank Division was known as the most prepared unit of them all, rumored to be “in constant battle readiness” with 80% of their men always ready for deployment. This doesn’t seem to be the case as they were caught flat-footed by the Ukrainians, as we said earlier. Needless to say, their performance in Ukraine was underwhelming if they were considered the best of the best Russia has to offer.

Currently, Ukraine believes that the objective of the Russian forces in Donbas is to surround the Ukrainian defense in the Sieverodonetsk-Lysychansk-Rubizhne areas. However, even with this task, the Russians seem to be failing as it was reported a few days ago that the Ukrainians destroyed an entire Russian armored column trying to cross the Siverskyi Donets River some 25 miles from Kharkiv as they tried to encircle Lysychansk. Further reports also confirm that the Ukrainian Armed Forces have successfully pushed the Russians to the border as they were withdrawing from Kharkiv.

The fate of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, specifically the Donbas region, is now left at somewhat of a stalemate, with the Ukrainians edging them out by a small margin. We will continue to monitor the situation as more information is received from the frontlines.