Russia plans to send its strongest tanks to drive around Ukraine but is ‘too scared to put them in combat’

A T-14 Armata tank rides through Red Square during the Victory Day military parade in Moscow, Russia, on May 9, 2017. (Natalia Kolenskinova/AFP via Getty Images)

  • Russia may deploy its new T-14 Armata tanks in Ukraine, British intelligence said Thursday.
  • But it is “unlikely to trust” the tank in combat given problems in its development, it said.
  • Per the update, the Armata will most likely just be there to show off in propaganda footage.
  • For more stories, go to  

Russia may be about to deploy its newest and most powerful tanks to Ukraine, the UK’s defense ministry said on Thursday — but with a catch. The update from UK officials said that the T-14 Armata may soon be seen in Ukraine, but probably wouldn’t feature in any actual fighting.

The ministry cited satellite imagery showing T-14s in one of Russia’s pre-deployment training zones to support its claim they would soon be in Ukraine. 

Making use of the tanks would be a “high-risk decision” for Russia because they are still so new, the ministry said, adding that Russian commanders “are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat.”

The ministry noted that “the program has been dogged with delays, reduction in planned fleet size, and reports of manufacturing problems” which limit their battlefield value.

“If Russia deploys T-14, it will likely primarily be for propaganda purposes,” it concluded. “Production is probably only in the low tens, while commanders are unlikely to trust the vehicle in combat.”

The T-14 is a high-tech vehicle with defense systems that has the means to shoot down the anti-tank rockets that Ukraine has deployed so effectively to blunt Russia’s advances. 

It is also said to have sophisticated sensors and data networking, onboard drones, and a high degree of automation.

It was first unveiled at Russia’s Victory Day Parade on May 9, 2015. The Kremlin initially planned for 2,300 of the tanks to arrive between 2015 and 2020, but production shortfalls delayed this to 2025.

In December 2021, the Russian conglomerate Rostec said production of around 40 tanks had started, and that they were anticipated for delivery after 2023, according to the Russian news agency Interfax.

The T-14 isn’t the only advanced combat vehicle Russia appears to be using mostly for show in Ukraine.

Last week, the British ministry said it is holding back on using its Su-57 Felon fighter jets over Ukrainian airspace because it’s scared they’ll get shot down.

Instead of flying over Ukraine, they’ve been launching missiles from their own territory, the briefing said.

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