No, this video does not show Russian forces destroying Leopard tanks

By: Sam Doak
June 9 2023

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No, this video does not show Russian forces destroying Leopard tanks


The Verdict False

Examination of this footage and its accompanying audio makes it possible to conclude that the objects shown are not tanks.

Claim ID bf9aac24


On June 6, 2023, Russia’s Ministry of Defence announced that the country’s armed forces had successfully destroyed eight Leopard tanks while repelling Ukrainian troops. Shortly after this, the Russian state-owned news outlet ​​Ria Novosti released what it claimed to be footage taken from a Ka-52 attack helicopter. The grainy video shows two objects being targeted and destroyed in an open field and is accompanied by audio that seems to have been recorded within the aircraft.

Since it was initially made public, this video has been shared widely online. Held up by some as proof of the Ukrainian losses claimed by the Kremlin, it has particular significance in the current context. For some time now, observers of the conflict have widely expected Ukraine to announce a large-scale counter-offensive to recapture territory occupied by Russian forces. With Ukrainian troops reportedly advancing across several positions recently, some believe this effort is already underway.

While ​​Ria Novosti and some pro-Kremlin social media users have claimed that the video in question shows Ukrainian Leopard tanks being destroyed, closer examination of the footage reveals that this is not the case. 

In Fact 

While it is difficult to determine precisely what the objects in this video are, there is enough available information to conclude that they are not Leopard tanks as has been claimed.  

As noted on Twitter by Samuel Bendett, a Russian-speaking analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses' International Affairs Group, the audio suggests that the objects in this footage are not tanks. On this, Bendett stated, “The Russian operator says “Давай по нему отработаем” (Let’s test on this…), which to me sounds like they wanted to test their systems on this unfortunate tractor.” 

As reported by Insider, a close examination of the objects in the footage reveals that they are missing numerous components distinctive to Leopard tanks. According to the outlet, “Leopard 2, a third-generation main battle tank whose 68-ton hulk is carried by two metal tank tracks that run the vehicle's length and carry it over terrain impassable by wheeled vehicles. Between them is an armored glacis plate built to protect against mines and missiles. The vehicle in Russia's video lacks these features, as well as other distinctive elements like the real Leopard's 120mm barrel or the secondary armament of a mounted machine gun that a crew member can fire from the hatch.”

While it is not possible to conclude with certainty what exactly the objects in question are, many have claimed that they are pieces of farm equipment. Similarities in their silhouettes to those of harvesters and spraying equipment have been widely cited. Whatever the case, there is a consensus among reputable sources that they are not Leopard tanks. 

The Verdict 

Close examination of this footage reveals that the objects targeted by Russian forces do not resemble Leopard tanks. While the quality of the video precludes precise identification, their silhouettes have been shown to resemble those of agricultural equipment. This claim has therefore been marked as false. 

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