Elements of Russia’s Elite 1st Guards Tank Army Withdrawn From Ukraine

The 1st Guards Tank Army is one of the most elite formations of the Russian Armed Forces. The 2nd Guards Motor Rifle ‘Tamanskaya’ Division and 4th Guards Tank ‘Kantemirovskaya’ Division are considered to be the best equipped, trained, and have the greatest offensive capability out of all of Russia’s armored formations. The majority of the 1st Guards Tank Army is equipped with modern T-80U main battle tanks (MBT) that some suggest are on par with Western MBTs. However, the performance of the 1st Guards Tank Army in Ukraine has been somewhat underwhelming.

Supposed directions of the advance of the 1st Guards Tank Army within the first two weeks of the invasion (24 February – 8 March)

In the first days of the war, the elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army bypassed the city of Sumy and advanced towards Kiyv’s eastern suburbs. The 4th Guards Tank Division moved to Ohtyrka and then advanced towards Mirhorod in an attempt to reach the Dnieper line. The initial successes seemed to be short-lived, however. The offensive lost its steam and besides the push towards Browary, no further operations towards the Dnieper or city of Poltava materialized.

The first issues in regards to the 1st Guards Tank Army surfaced with confirmed losses reported by Oryx. Around 4 March a number of T-80U tanks, marked with a red number “4” in a white hexagon, were reported as abandoned or captured by the Ukrainians. Since then the number of lost T-80U reached almost 50 tanks with the majority of them being marked with this tactical marking.

T-80U lost in the 1st Guards Tank Army area of operation. Notice the white hexagon with red four on the back of the turret.

Without a doubt, the tanks marked with either a red “2” or a red “4” in white hexagons belong to the 1st Guards Tank Army. If all the reported losses of T-80Us belong to the 4th Guards Tank Division, then it means that this single unit lost 20% of its MBTs. But these are only some significant signs that something significant happened to the 1st Guards Tank Army.

According to Ukrainian military intelligence, the 1st Guards Tank Army reportedly began setting up a repair base near the village of Klimove, in the Bryansk region (35 km from the border of Ukraine), in order to restore tanks from the reserve stockpiles. However, many of these tanks are lacking crucial components such as optics, radios, or even engine parts. Of the stockpile tanks allotted to the 4th Guards Tank Division only one in ten is relatively operational. The commander of the 13th Tank Regiment, 4th GTD reportedly shot himself after receiving this news, though thisp has not been independently verified.

The latest developments of the situation near Sumy indicates that the Ukrainian 93rd Mechanized Brigade managed to successfully assault the town of Trostianets and open a supply route to the city of Sumy from the south. Further T-80 variants have been reported captured. The Ukrainian General Staff claimed earlier today that they believed that elements of the 1st Guard Tank Army had been pulled out of Ukraine completely in an effort to regroup. In such a case, plenty of questions arise about the state and condition of the 1st Guards Tank Army and its ability to conduct further operations.

A captured T-80BV in Trostianets (via UAWeaponsTracker)