Russia’s mounting losses from the war in Ukraine, amid counterassaults against Moscow’s forces, have become more frequent recently, with reports from Kyiv this week claiming it destroyed 18 armored vehicles and two tanks in one day.
Seemingly emblematic of these pressures upon its military hardware, only a single tank, manufactured during World War II, appeared in Red Square during the country’s annual Victory Day parade on Tuesday, leading to widespread mockery.
While Russia recovered from the embarrassment, a viral tweet posted the same day suggested that the lone vehicle was to be sent to the Ukrainian frontlines, too.
A tweet by user @DarthPutinKGB, posted on May 9, 2023, viewed 4.1 million times, included a video of a tank, similar to the one seen at the Victory Day Parade, falling off a truck as it tried to mount it.
The accompanying tweet said: “The only tank in today’s victory parade was a T-34. When it heard it was to be sent to Ukraine it tried to play dead.”
Reports from March suggested that the Russian military might have begun using Soviet-era tanks in Ukraine after being hampered by the loss of its other armored vehicles since the February 24, 2022, invasion.
Photos published by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) seemingly showed tanks being transported from a storage facility in Russia, with social media speculation that Moscow might have deployed them to the frontlines.
The intelligence, in theory, makes the idea that the lone tank used in the parade being sent to Ukraine potentially plausible. However, the claim and video shared on Twitter about that tank is misleading.
Firstly, the clip was filmed more than four years ago during a Battle of Kursk parade that Russian President Vladimir Putin attended in 2018.
While the tank in the video is either the same or a similar model to the tank used in the Victory Parade, a T-34-85, manufactured during World War II, the markings on the side are different.
The falling tank was covered by multiple media outlets, including ABC News and Business Insider. No injuries were reported.
While the tone (and timing) of the tweet strongly suggest it was meant as a joke, it does not explain that the video was filmed more than four years ago.
The similarity of the tank in the 2018 clip and the one paraded recently in Red Square furthers its potential to mislead.
While we can’t say for certain whether the lone tank used in the Victory Day parade has been sent to Ukraine—without confirmation from the Kremlin or likely unforthcoming verifiable evidence—according to Russian military expert Steven Zaloga, the likelihood is very slim.
Zaloga, a senior analyst at Teal Group Corporation who has several published texts on the history of the T-34, said there is no evidence that the Russian army was using these tanks in Ukraine.
“The oldest Russian tank or oldest Soviet tank that has been confirmed to be in Ukraine or actually taking part in the fighting is the T-62 [first introduced in 1961],” he said.
Zaloga added that while there have been rumors that other older types like the T-54 (used mostly during the Cold War) had been sent to the conflict (as suggested by the ISW), there was no evidence to suggest the model used in the parade would be used on the frontlines.
“But I can’t imagine that they’re going to, you know, try to use those (T-34s) down in Ukraine,” Zaloga added. “It’d be a waste. They have the reasons for wanting them, like I say it’s for patriotic parades [but] If they’re gonna use something old, they’ll use T-54s and T-55s.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Kremlin via email for comment.
I didn’t think that the cockroaches are ready for using T-34s yet. They will get their turn once the T-54/55s have been turned into smoldering hulks.
These guys can’t even load a tank on a truck, why are we worried about their nukes? lol…
They have no problems loading toilets and washing machines.
Even Ukrainian farmers have become better experts at transporting tanks.