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Russia takes 40% of old tanks from largest Soviet armored vehicle depot

Russia takes 40% of old tanks from largest Soviet armored vehicle depot Russia takes 40% of old tanks from largest Soviet armored vehicle depot in Buryatia (Photo:

According to The Moscow Times, during the war against Ukraine, Russia took out of storage over 40% of outdated Soviet tanks and armored personnel carriers at the largest known base for preserved military equipment, "Vagzhanove," located in Buryatia.

As reported by the Russian media, "Vagzhanove" is situated near Ulan-Ude and covers an area of about 11 square kilometers, significantly larger than the combined area of twenty other well-known military equipment storage bases near Russia.

According to Google Earth imagery, around 3,840 units of armored vehicles were stored in "Vagzhanove" in September 2021. After 8 months of war, in November 2022, approximately 2,600 armored vehicles remained at the base, and by May 2023, around 2,270 were left. Thus, during this time, 1,570 units or 40.8% of armored vehicles were removed from the base. Notably, a larger portion (32%) was removed after the declaration of mobilization in late 2022.

The equipment at "Vagzhanove" was primarily stored in the open air. Satellite images from November 2022 reveal that about half of the vehicles lacked turrets or displayed visible damage marks. Similar signs are observable on roughly half of the equipment that remained at the base until May 2023. Additionally, the base houses 10 hangars capable of sheltering up to 400 units of armored vehicles.

Former military personnel from the "Vagzhanovo" base shared several images of tanks stored there on social media. Military experts identified these tanks as T-62 tanks, produced in the USSR from 1962 to 1975.

Modernization instead of disposal

Before the war in Ukraine, Russia regularly disposed of outdated armored vehicles: from 2014 to 2022, 35 contracts worth 232.2 million rubles were signed for this purpose. The number of contracts for tank disposal began decreasing in 2017 when the chief of the main armored vehicle management of the Ministry of Defense, General Alexander Shevchenko, stated that instead of the initially planned 10,000 tanks, only 4,000 would be destroyed. Other tanks might be useful due to "changes in the international situation," the general claimed. In 2022, the Ministry of Defense ceased signing contracts for the disposal of military equipment.

Reports about the reactivation of old Soviet equipment began appearing in the media earlier. For example, in October 2022, 103 Armored Repair Plant near Chita received orders to modernize 800 T-62 tanks. These tanks undergo extensive modernization, receiving additional protection, modern engines, optical-electronic systems, and thermal imagers.

In Russia, there are no less than 15 tank repair plants engaged in reactivation and modernization. Reactivated equipment serves not only to replenish losses in armored vehicles but also for palliative replacement of artillery.

Russian losses

According to the data from the Oryx center, which registers confirmed losses only, since the beginning of the war in 2022, 2,082 Russian tanks have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned, or captured. Meanwhile, Ukraine's tank fleet has grown since the start of the invasion last year, while the Russian fleet has been reduced by half.