Video has emerged of a dramatic tank battle in southern Ukraine, as Kyiv’s forces seek to widen gaps in Russia’s defensive lines by deploying columns of armor.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted drone footage to X, formerly known as Twitter, on Wednesday showing the “tank duel” between a Ukrainian T-64BV and a Russian T-72B3, with the former besting the latter in a close quarters fight through a rural tree line.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry credited the 128th Mountain Assault Brigade with producing the footage. The RBC-Ukraine news outlet reported that the action took place on the southeastern Zaporizhzhia front, which since early June has been one of several areas of Ukrainian offensive focus.
In the footage, the Russian tank appeared to be firing along the length of the tree line, its barrel parallel to the foliage that concealed the Ukrainian tank only meters away from the Russian vehicle. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian tank appeared to be already lining up a shot on the rival armored vehicle.
The Ukrainian tank fired two rounds into the Russian tank’s side in quick succession, seemingly immobilizing the T-72B3. White smoke began billowing from the Russian tank hatches, suggesting the penetration of its armored hull. The Ukrainian tank then moved away back down the tree line. The dramatic kill was captured by at least two drones filming from different angles.
Such short-range tank duels have not been common in the 18 months of Russia’s full-scale invasion. A May report by the Royal United Services Institute noted that main battle tanks have largely been used as supplementary long-range indirect fire artillery weapons, medium-range fire support assets, and as armored support for small-scale raiding operations.
When they have occurred, tank-on-tank engagements “usually take place within 1,000m,” RUSI wrote. “Engagement speed has been the determining factor in these clashes.”
Recent days have seen reports emerge of a new armored push on the southern front, with Ukrainian units seeking to exploit gaps in Russia’s so-called “Surovikin Line” of defenses around the settlement of Verbove, north of the logistical hub of Tokmak and the strategic prize of Melitopol.
Kyiv’s ultimate goal is to drive south to reach the Sea of Azov coastline, thus severing the “land corridor” connecting occupied Crimea to western Russia.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Ukrainian armor had for the first time penetrated the line of defenses made up of anti-tank ditches and “dragon’s teeth,” concrete anti-tank obstacles.
The Institute for the Study of War, meanwhile, said that Ukrainian armored vehicles “are operating beyond the final line of the Russian defensive layer that Ukrainian forces in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast are currently penetrating, although ISW is not yet prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have broken fully through this Russian defensive layer.”
Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email to request comment.