Russia says it has video of the first Western tank in Ukraine getting blown up, and it could well be legit

A video of a tank billowing smoke and fire in the countryside, said to show a Leopard tank being destroyed in Ukraine
An annotated version of a Russian video showing a tank being destroyed. Russian officials say it was a German-made Leopard tank, taken out in the Zaporizhzhia region in early June 2023.Russian military/Insider
  • Russia is jubilant over footage is says shows a Leopard tank being destroyed in Ukraine.

  • Ukraine struggled to get donations of advanced tanks like the Leopard, and is now deploying them.

  • The footage isn't verified, but respected war-monitor platforms say they think it is legit.

Russia's Ministry of Defense dropped a shocking video on Thursday, which seemed to show one of Ukraine's prized Leopard tanks being blown up.

Western tanks like the German-made Leopard are being deployed in Ukraine as part of its long-awaited counter-offensive.

Ukraine obtained the tanks from its Western allies after an enormous struggle, as Insider's Sinéad Baker previously reported.

The footage from Thursday shows a row of tanks in a field, with ordinance exploding around them. One, which appears to be a Leopard, is shown on fire.

Russian officials said the footage was recorded in the Zaporizhzhia region of eastern Ukraine.

There are reasons to be cautious. Russia has lied about its military exploits in the past. Only a couple of days ago it published a video which it also said showed a Leopard kill but was probably just some farm equipment.

And the Kremlin has a clear interest in showing that Ukraine's prized Western weapons can be defeated.

Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian state-media host with 1.3 million followers on Telegram, was jubilant at the footage, taking special pleasure in sharing screenshots of Germany's Bild newspaper reporting on the apparent loss. (Insider and Bild share a parent company, Axel Springer).

Nonetheless, people in the open-source intelligence community also think it's legit. The two most prominent tracking accounts on Twitter — UA Weapons Tracker and Oryx — both considered the footage proof of a Leopard kill.

Pressed on its ability to verify it, UA Weapons Tracker said the footage was clear enough to match the burning wreckage to a Leopard.

Both UA Weapons Tracker and Oryx are open-source accounts on Twitter, but with considerable heft. Oryx's work has been cited by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Russia's claim is also not an implausible one to begin with.

Even though Ukraine and its Western allies are probably not thrilled to see one of its best tanks on fire, it was always likely that some of them would be destroyed if they were deployed to the front lines.

Read the original article on Business Insider