On Monday, 4th September 2023, Russian forces engaged in the southern region of Ukraine claimed to have destroyed a British-supplied Challenger 2 tank. A video showing the tank’s smoldering wreckage went viral on social media. On Tuesday, 5th September 2023, the Russian Embassy in the UK shared a picture of the destroyed tank from its X handle and wrote in the caption “Wasted”.
— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) September 5, 2023
The picture posted by the Russian Embassy also mentioned that the destruction of the Challenger 2 tank – a heavily armored, highly mobile tank, designed to engage and destroy other tanks, and fitted with a rifled gun – has cost the British taxpayers 4.2 million pounds.
Challenger 2 is a third-generation British Main Battle Tank (MBT). it is currently in service with the armed forces of UK, Oman and Ukraine (supplied by the UK).
With the image of the destroyed tank, believed to be very expensive and advanced, the Russian Embassy tried to remind the British citizens that while they struggle for basic healthcare and energy supplies, their tax money is being spent on a ‘futile’ attempt to fight against Russian forces on foreign soil.
During the ongoing war with Russian forces, a British-supplied tank provided to Ukraine was destroyed. This marks a significant event, likely the first time a Challenger 2 tank has been destroyed due to enemy action. The previous known instance of such a heavily armored battle vehicle being destroyed was believed to have occurred due to a friendly fire in Iraq back in 2003. A video circulating on the internet depicts the charred remains of the tank.
Widely shared footage on social media displays one of the 14 tanks provided by the UK to Kyiv in January, situated at the roadside with thick grey smoke billowing from it and flames erupting. The exact cause of the tank’s destruction was not confirmed by Ukrainian forces, but it is known that the Ukrainian crew within the tank survived the attack. However, there have been different claims about the mode of destruction of this tank.
According to a report by BBC, the British-made and supplied Challenger 2 tank in Ukraine was initially rendered immobile due to a mine explosion. This explosion ignited a fire in the rear fuel tank, prompting the Ukrainian crew of four to safely evacuate the tank. Subsequently, while the now-empty tank remained immobilized, it became a target for a Russian Lancet loitering drone, which ultimately destroyed it.
Vladimir Rogov, a Russian-appointed official overseeing part of the southern Zaporizhzhia region currently under Moscow’s control, posted on Telegram that a Challenger 2 tank had been engulfed in flames during combat near the southeastern village of Robotyne. According to Rogov, this tank was originally intended for deployment to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. However, it was instead destroyed on what he described as the foremost line of Russia’s defence. He posted a video on Telegram depicting a tank seemingly on fire on a roadside, with thick grey smoke billowing from the scene.
In January 2023, the UK provided Ukraine with 14 Challenger 2 tanks. These tanks, constructed in the late 1990s, remain among Ukraine’s most contemporary and proficient tank assets, alongside the German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Ukrainian tank crews underwent training to operate them in March. The provision of Challenger 2 tanks constitutes a component of the UK’s £28 million support package, which was announced at the beginning of the year.
So far, the UK has extended military support worth £4.6 billion to Ukraine. Out of this, military aid worth £2.3 billion was provided in 2022. Russia has now reminded the UK taxpayers about the costs born by them because of NATO’s support of Ukraine against Russia.