Moscow is preparing to deploy a number of tanks on its strategic border with Poland. The Kremlin intends to strengthen the western border by sending a further regiment of tanks into the Smolensk oblast (region), which in the past was considered as of strategic importance, being the only communicating link between Moscow and Poland. The same Poland that will welcome new American missiles.

The news was reported by the press service of the Western Military District. The new contingent of armoured vehicles will mainly comprise of T-72B tanks in the updated “A” version, but also BMP-2 armoured track vehicles for infantry transport, and specialist vehicles for every type of support in land operations. The Kremlin press office stated that “a regiment of tanks will be formed as a combined grouping from the Western Military District.

The new military unit will be put together as a separate tank battalion, located out in the Smolensk region. The regiment will improve the combat capabilities of the motorised infantry division.”  The information was later published by the news agency Interfax. According to the official statement, “sub-unit armaments will receive modern combat equipment: T-72Ba tanks, BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles, as well as air defence equipment, reconnaissance, logistic units and technical and medical assistance.”

The T-72Ba tank is an updated version of the T-72 Ural combat tank equipped with Kontakt-1 and -5 Explosive Reactive Armour on both the hull and the turret. It carries a smooth-bore 125mm 2A46M cannon, capable of firing different types of ammunition, including guided missiles. Currently, Russia has 227 tanks of this model, which carry reactive armour and implemented systems. This version of the T-72 tank, available since 2000, is considered a ‘low-cost’ upgrade from previous versions, developed to keep older T-72 tanks operational. BMP-2 armoured vehicles are Soviet-era infantry combat vehicles armed with a 30mm cannon and capable of carrying seven men in full kit.

The Smolensk region, an area of strategic importance in the past, was also the scene of one of the main defeats suffered by the Red Army during the Second World War (Operation Barbarossa in July 1941).  The decision to strengthen the armoured elements deployed here must mainly come from Moscow’s desire to maintain ‘high’ pressure on European borders, but also in view of the new situation after the ‘destruction’ of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which will see Poland (where the American modular launchers are deployed) as a possible threat to the Russian Federation, and consequently a possible ‘target’ against which to guard and protect themselves.

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