Ukraine is under attack and Russian forces are moving in at a fast pace into the country following Russian President Vladimir Putin's orders on Thursday mornings. According to reports, Russia is now moving its BMPT-72 Terminator towards Ukraine, which was recently introduced to the military in December.
Reports claim that the heavily armed tracked BMPT-72 Terminator vehicle appears to be on its way to the Ukrainian border area, where Russian forces are stationed in numbers ranging from 150,000 to 200,000. The news comes in as at least five cities including Kiev, Kharkiv, Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa are under massive shelling from Russian forces.
Russia Goes Throttle
Reports of Russia moving its BMPT-72 Terminator towards Ukraine come after Putin officially recognized the independence of two separatist regions â Luhansk and Donetsk on Tuesday. On Wednesday the tanks were seen moving toward Ukraine border where around 200,000 men from the Russian army are stationed.
The movement of the heavily armored fighting vehicles suggest that Moscow intends to be involved in high-intensity warfare in an urban environment, with Kiev being the primary target. The type's total impact on such a campaign will be modest, though, with less than a dozen finished.
Videos posted on social media also suggest that Russia is preparing full throttle for high-intensity urban warfare.
A video on social media shows a train outside of Yelets, Russia, travelling west toward the Ukrainian border. The particular location, a rail crossing on the western suburbs of Yelets in Lipetsk Oblast, has been geolocated by at least two independent open-source-intelligence-focused Twitter accounts. The train would be about 180 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Some of the BMPT-72s aboard the train have been given an improvised winter camouflage, with white panels added to block up the vehicle's visual signature when operating in snowy conditions.
Fighting Against All Odds
It is yet not known if Russia has already started using the BMPT-72 Terminators following Thursday's invasion on Ukraine. Understandably, it will be a big challenge for Ukraine given the weapons in Russia's arsenals and if those are used over the next few days.
The BMPT-72 is a rare vehicle in Russian Army service, with only one frontline unit having been outfitted with it so far. According to reports, a motorized rifle battalion inside the Central Military District's 90th Tank Division has only nine vehicles so far, implying that the entire unit is being relocated west, based on the video.
The BMPT-72 was designed to meet a specific requirement of the Russian Army for a heavy infantry combat vehicle that is suited for urban counterinsurgency warfare, such as that which Moscow's forces faced in the two Chechen operations in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.
In both of these cases, standard armored vehicles suffered significant casualties in urban settings. The vehicle is also designed to supplement existing main battle tanks with fire support. With BMPT-72 Terminator, Russia now has an advantage in urban warfare.
The BMPT had a turret with a single 2A42 30mm autocannon and a four-round box-type launcher for 9M133 Kornet (AT-14 Spriggan) anti-tank guided missiles when it was first built (ATGMs).
However, it was redesigned with new, stronger armament in the form of twin 2A42 30mm autocannons, a coaxial 7.62 PKT machine gun, and four 9M120 Ataka (AT-9 Spiral-2) ATGMs in separate tubes after the original design failed to obtain orders. Finally, in the front of the tank, the BMPT is equipped with a pair of 30mm AGS-17D automatic grenade launchers.
This is something Ukraine needs to worry about given that Putin boasts several other high-tech weapons in his arsenal.