The Daily Telegraph

Ukraine offensive inflicts body blow on elite enemy tank unit

- By Joe Barnes

AN ELITE Russian tank unit formed to defend Moscow and lead any war with Nato has been “severely degraded” by the war in Ukraine, according to British intelligen­ce.

Moscow’s 1st Guards Tank Army – believed to be made up of at least 500 tanks and other combat vehicles – could take years to rebuild itself as the pride of the Russian military’s mobile ground forces, Britain’s Ministry of Defence said yesterday.

From the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Western officials and analysts have observed the so-called 1st GTA’S failure to capture cities and territorie­s.

“The 1st GTA suffered heavy casualties in the initial phase of the invasion and had not been fully reconstitu­ted prior to the counter-offensive in Kharkiv,” the MOD said in its daily intelligen­ce briefing. And as Ukraine’s armed forces launched a counteroff­ensive in the north west, Moscow’s tank formation once again floundered.

Considered one of the most illustriou­s units of the Soviet army’s ground forces, the 1st Guards Tank Division was formed in 1942 and went on to play a massive role in the counter-offensive on Stalingrad in the Second World War.

The elite force was later used as the USSR’S enforcer in East Germany, helping to quash the 1953 uprising, as well as the Prague Spring of 1968, stationed in Dresden until 1993.

In Kharkiv, the 1st GTA’S defences were weakened after the bulk of its units were dispatched to Kherson.

According to a Russian casualty log, revealed by Ukraine’s military intelligen­ce unit in May, the 1st GTA lost 131 tanks and 409 troops in the first 19 days of fighting.

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