Russia has pulled thousands of mothballed Soviet tanks from storage, according to satellite images.
The country’s largest known military storage facility in Buryatia has seen a reduction of over 40 percent of its tanks and personnel carriers since September 2021, The Moscow Times revealed, citing Google Earth.
The Vagzhanovo depot in eastern Siberia was left with an estimated 2,270 armored vehicles in May 2023, a drop of 1,570 vehicles since September 2021.
Moreover, the bulk of the reduction — 32 percent — was recorded following the announcement of the first mobilization at the end of 2022, the independent Amsterdam-based Russian outlet added.
Least Valuable Equipment
Most vehicles at the 11-square-meter (118 square feet) warehouse were left out in the open, a situation usually reserved for the least valuable military equipment.
The most valuable military equipment is stored in ventilated and heated rooms, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense instructions.
The second category of vehicles is kept in unheated hangars, and the third under awnings.
Vagzhanovo has 10 hangars where about 400 tanks can be kept, according to the outlet.
T-62 Tanks With Missing Turrets
About half of the equipment was missing turrets and were visibly damaged, the outlet added, citing the images captured in November 2022.
A similar pattern was observed in May 2023.
Citing military experts and pictures posted on social media by Russian ex-servicemen, The Moscow Times identified the tanks as the T-62, produced in the USSR from 1962 to 1975.
Efforts to Shore Up Depleting Numbers
Russia decreased its disposal of obsolete armored vehicles in 2017, ceasing entirely in 2022.
Instead, Moscow ordered the modernization of around 800 T-62s in October, including additional protection, more modern engines, the addition of optoelectronic systems, and thermal imagers.
Russia has lost at least 2,231 tanks in Ukraine since February 2022, according to open-source intelligence tracker Oryx.
Apart from refurbishing obsolete equipment, Russia is reportedly reimporting tank and missile parts previously sold to India and Myanmar to bolster its war efforts in Ukraine.
The reimported equipment includes thousands of sighting telescopes and cameras to modernize T-72 tanks.