Putin massing fresh forces on Kharkiv border ahead of possible renewed offensive

The crew—the best in their brigade, according to the general, though they ignored it—are typical of the volunteer army now fighting this war, and the outdated equipment is in great use despite Western arms shipments.

Tonko first served in tanks during his national service in the Soviet Army in the 1980s. His mechanical driver is a 44-year-old IT systems manager named Konstantin Kolomies. The gunner, Sergey Lubchik, 39, ran a toy store. They have also done national service many years ago. None of them had been in a fight before this summer.

Their tank is an aging T64 tank, originally captured from the Russians. Tunko says Tankers prefer the car they’re used to, and his crew is familiar with the 64 – but adds that it’s inferior even to the T-72 in everything from optics to engine. The commander said her explosive reactive armor “was good in the ’70s. There are modern things now.”

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Ukraine has repeatedly ordered NATO tanks from the West. Germany, producing a leopard, best suited to the needs of Ukraine, flatly refused. The Americans hinted that tanks might be “on the table” but did not provide any.

In the last attack two weeks ago, the crew encountered light resistance. We did not engage any enemy tanks. They only said some fixed positions. “The artillery preparation succeeded.”

Read:Russia-Ukraine war latest: what we know on day 174 of the invasion | Ukraine

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