RUSSIAN despot Vladimir Putin has lost nearly all of the tanks he had when he started his brutal invasion of Ukraine almost two years ago.
The tyrant has lost almost 3,000 of the armoured vehicles since the war began – and is now turning to mothballed and rusting weapons from the Cold War.
Former Brigadier Ben Barry, who served in the British Army, told The Sun that Putin’s crumbling forces have maybe two to three years left worth of resources.
He explained that Russian top brass are now relying on “warehouses and warehouses with stockpiles of vehicles left over from the Cold War”.
And the security expert said Vlad is putting “quantity over quality” as much of the Soviet-era ammo is “50 years old” and “deteriorated”.
British military think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) issued the damning indictment of Russia’s armed forces today at its Military Balance 2024 conference in London.
The experts warned the world is in a “volatile” place and facing a “more dangerous decade” as a result of Putin’s war in Ukraine – alongside hotbeds of conflict elsewhere in the world.
And defence analysts fear that without Western support, the drain on Ukraine’s stores could prove catastrophic.
Barry told The Sun that Russia’s technique on the battlefield – sustained and “very bloody attacks” would hit Ukraine much harder without key support from Europe and America.
“Russia, I think in the near term, is hoping that it can outlast Ukraine’s Western supporters,” he warned.
Heavy Russian losses since 2022 invasion
Dr Bastian Giegerich, Director General of IISS and defence pro, said the war has “exposed fissures in Russia’s armed forces”.
He explained that Russia has lost an estimated 1,120 tanks in just the last year alone.
They’ve also seen around 2000 armoured personnel and infantry fighting vehicles destroyed.
The total figure of lost tanks come to more than 3,000 since the start of Putin’s ruthless campaign.
Giegerich said: “Russia’s battlefield tank losses are greater than the number it had when it launched its offensive in 2022.
“Moscow has been able to replenish, but the vehicles that emerge from Russia’s production facilities are in most cases, not new.
Russia has taken equipment out of storage and pressed it into battle.
And he revealed that Putin may only be able to keep doing so for “2 to 3 more years”.
In the meantime it means his ruthless army has to sacrifice “quality for quantity”.
The research also revealed that Russia has lost around 5,500 armoured vehicles since the beginning of the invasion, and around 500 multiple rocket launchers.
Ukraine’s estimates put Russia’s loss of soldiers at 400,000, it’s ships and boat supply at 24 and aircraft at 657.
Several experts also spoke today about Putin’s attempt to control the narrative around the war, painting a false picture of how Russia is withstanding Ukrainian counteroffensives.
Douglas Barrie, a Military Aerospace expert at IISS, said that Putin’s comments in the Tucker Carlson interview about the superiority of Russian long-range missiles were unfounded “mischief-making”.
He explained: “To be honest, if you actually look at the systems they’ve currently fielded they don’t substantiate his claims.
“When he talked about various wonder weapons, quite a lot of those wonder weapons remain in development.
“It’s an open question as to whether we’ll see all of those ever make it into service.”
And Henry Boyd, another IISS defence expert, said Russia has long tried to paint itself as an equal challenger to Western power.
“I think it’s been a long semi-political goal to be able to advertise Russia as being the West’s equal in military capability.
“At the moment, that is not the case across the board… they’re still some way behind.”
China and Iran’s support of Russia
The former Brigadier did warn that Iran could provide “background support” to Russia which “could stop Putin’s forces from dwindling”.
And the IISS security experts said Putin has already turned to his allies in Iran and North Korea for weapons.
He explained that the West needs to be cautious about China and Iran’s response to the simultaneous wars around the globe – in Ukraine, Gaza and wider parts of the Middle East.
“China and Iran, with their diplomacy, their aid and their intelligence activities, have everything to gain from diminishing the position of the West strategically,” he said.
While Zelensky’s brave forces have also suffered losses, Western support has allowed them to keep stocks up while Russia’s have dwindled.
NATO is bracing itself for potential involvement in the horrific meat-grinder battles as it conducts the biggest war drill exercise since the Cold War.
But member states will need to provide more help if Ukraine is to hold off against Russia – especially with Chinese and Iranian support.
As the war nears it’s two-year mark, Ukraine’s success in 2022 was more significant than last year.
Analysts today said: “While Ukrainian forces in early 2022 halted Russia’s initial invasion and, later that year, regained about 50% of the territory seized by Russia since February, progress in 2023 was mixed.”
Zelensky’s brave army has had success in attacking Russia’s Black Sea fleet, in part because of Western cruise missiles.
But it’s ground counter-offensive has not been as successful – and 2024 will prove to be a key year for not just Ukraine, but the waiting West.