Why Russia Is Scared to Send the T-14 Armata to War in Ukraine

T-14 Armata
May 28, 2024 Topic: Security Blog Brand: The Buzz

Why Russia Is Scared to Send the T-14 Armata to War in Ukraine


As of March 2024, Russia has lost around 3,000 main battle tanks in Ukraine, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Oryx. Despite heavy losses, Russia has not deployed its T-14 Armata tanks extensively.

T-14 Armata


Rostec’s CEO claimed the tanks were too valuable to risk, hinting at potential issues with the tank's capabilities or Moscow's hesitation to expose its performance in combat.

Some analysts suggest that Russia might be withholding the T-14 until it secures committed buyers to avoid damaging its market reputation.

Russia's T-14 Armata: Too Valuable or Too Vulnerable for Ukraine?

As of March 2024, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that Moscow has likely lost at least 3,000 main battle tanks over the course of its war in Ukraine. Oryx has published similar numbers. 

Despite these heavy losses, Moscow has been reluctant to deploy its most advanced tank model – the T-14 Armata. Widely touted by the Kremlin, the Armata’s absence from the war suggests that the MBT may not be as capable as purported.

In March, the CEO of Russia’s state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec claimed that Putin was not deploying the Armata in Ukraine because the tank was too valuable. While Moscow struggles under economic sanctions, gaining traction in its Ukraine invasion is one of the Kremlin’s top priorities. Why, then, wouldn’t Putin deploy such formidable MBTs to the frontlines? 

Perhaps the T-14 Armata is not as capable as officials would like to claim. 

The T-14 Armata - What We Know

The T-14 was initially introduced in 2015, when the tank debuted during Moscow’s annual Victory Day Parade. 

By 2020, Russia’s Ministry of Defense revealed that the Armata had been combat-tested and was ready for mass production. But the country’s Armata production line was soon cut short. The few T-14s that have been constructed over the last few years do have several key upgrades over their predecessors. 

T-14 Armata

Unlike earlier Soviet tanks, the Armata features an unmanned turret. Since all crew members are located in a separate and protected compartment, survivability is much higher. As detailed by Military Watch Magazine, “The tank’s frontal base armour protection of over 900mm, paired with Malachit explosive reactive armour and the AFGHANIT active protection system, provides an extreme degree of survivability.” 

Additionally, the T-14 is equipped with sophisticated armaments and sensors, including Vacuum-1 APFSDS projectiles.

The T-14’s Short Stint in Ukraine

Last spring, Moscow did temporarily deploy a small number of T-14 Armata tanks to the frontlines of Ukraine. By July, these tanks withdrew from the war altogether. 

T-14 Armata

Some analysts speculate that perhaps the Kremlin fears potential client-states would be less inclined to purchase the new tank series if it did not perform as well as expected in Ukraine. Moscow might be holding back its Armata tanks until it secures committed buyers.

About the Author: Maya Carlin 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

All images are Creative Commons.