Russia’s Shoigu says tank production is booming

By Thomson Reuters Apr 19, 2024 | 4:09 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that the country was ramping up manufacturing of tanks and heavy flamethrower systems, but more work was needed to increase production of tank protection equipment.

Shoigu’s ministry published video showing him touring a tank factory in the Siberian city of Omsk and meeting workers, whom he praised for exceeding production targets.

“The Omsk plant is fulfilling the programme – I can say it is even over-fulfilling the programme,” Shoigu was shown telling officials. “The issues and tasks that we decided on during our last visit have almost all been resolved.”

Building new tanks is a necessity for Russia because of heavy equipment losses in the first two years of the war in Ukraine. The International Institute for Strategic Studies said in February that Russia had lost more than 3,000 tanks there, the equivalent of its entire active inventory before the war, and was having to pull old ones out of storage to replace them.

Shoigu ordered factory heads to increase production of tank protection equipment and said beefing up supplies to tank repair brigades was a key area of focus.

“Now we need to significantly increase the additional kits that we need to put on those vehicles that are in combat,” he said.

Shoigu’s visit comes as Russian forces are pummelling the strategically important Ukrainian town of Chasiv Yar with artillery, drone and air strikes. Kyiv says Moscow wants to take the town by May 9, the date when Russia commemorates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Omsk personnel told Shoigu that the factory had increased production of “Solntsepek” heavy flamethrower systems by 2.5 times and that the next shipment of a new model of the T-80BVM main battle tank was ready to be sent to the front.

Factory heads told the defence minister they had hired an additional 1,200 staff since last year and were working around the clock in two shifts to expand production capacity.

Shoigu also spotlighted the production of anti-drone systems. Kyiv has mounted frequent drone strikes on Russian energy infrastructure since the start of the year, hitting some major oil refineries across the world’s second largest oil exporter and sending up oil prices.

(Writing by Lucy Papachristou; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)