What are Russia's Terminator tank support vehicles in action in Ukraine's Severodonetsk?

Armoured fighter is designed for urban combat

Russia has sent Terminator tank support vehicles to the battleground in Severodonetsk, Ukraine. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
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Terminators have been seen on the battlefield in Ukraine as the Russian military attempts to gain territory in the Donbas region.

The distinctive tank support vehicle, or armoured fighting vehicle (AFV), is designed to fight in tight urban spaces and reduce the risk to both tanks and infantry.

The British military believes Russia has probably sent its only operational company of BMP-T Terminators to help the assault on Severodonetsk.

The tank support vehicles, nicknamed Terminator by the manufacturer, are heavily armoured and carry four anti-tank missile launchers.

The AFV, designed and manufactured by the Russian company Uralvagonzavod, also has two 30mm autocannons, two grenade launchers and a machinegun.

They were developed by Russia to provide protection to battle tanks in the Afghan and Chechen wars.

In Grozny, the Chechen capital, defending forces armed with cheap anti-tank weapons were able to fire on the tank without it being able to shoot back, because it cannot fire at a steep, upward angle into surrounding buildings.

Traditionally, infantry offers such support to tanks and the Terminator is an attempt to protect both tank and soldier.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said the vehicles were likely posted to Severodonetsk by Russia’s Central Grouping of Forces.

The city “remains one of Russia’s immediate tactical priorities” but “with a maximum of 10 Terminators deployed they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the campaign”, the MoD said.

Severodonetsk is part of the eastern Luhansk breakaway enclave where Russia is trying to capture territory from Ukraine after repositioning forces from Kyiv towards Donbas last month.

Regional governor Sergiy Gaiday said on Monday the city remained “completely under the Ukrainian flag”.

But Ukraine’s human rights commissioner Liudmyla Denisova said Russian attacks were turning the city into a “new Mariupol”, the southern port left in ruins by a weeks-long siege.

Settlements are being shelled with artillery and volley fire, and Russia has “thrown all its forces to storm Severodonetsk”, she said.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday, taking his message to the gathering of political and business leaders three months after Russia’s invasion.

“This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” Mr Zelenskyy said. “If so, the force is not interested in our thoughts, and there is no need for further meetings in Davos.”

Updated: June 19, 2022, 6:12 PM