Bato Basanov was part of a record tank biathlon team that competed in War Games last year. The event was attended by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian Army Chief Valery Gerasimov. The 25-year-old from the Buryat Republic showed off his exceptional skills as a sniper after hitting every target while traveling at speeds of up to 50mph.
The war games were held at the Alabino training ground in the Moscow region and involved the participation of 19 countries, including China, in combat games.
The corporal was later filmed being introduced to Gerasimov, who nearly killed himself last week while visiting the Russian front line near Izyum.
Basanov was hailed for “glorifying Russia by becoming world champion in tank biathlon within his team” after the event.
However, the Russian soldier was killed when his tank was hit in a firefight with Ukrainian forces.
Commenting on the news, Victor Kovalenko, a veteran of the Ukrainian army, tweeted: “Everything is wrong in Russia, including military honors.
“This 2021 Russian champion in tank biatlon Jr. Sgt. Bato Basanov from the city of Ulan-Ude could not survive the battle against the Ukrainian defenders.”
Putin’s army has suffered huge losses in personnel and equipment since he launched his invasion in late February.
The Ukrainian armed forces claim that Russia has lost more than 1,000 tanks, as well as around 25,000 soldiers.
Phillips P. OBrien, professor of strategic studies at the University of St Andrews, compared Russian tank losses to those of Nazi Germany in the Battle of Kursk in 1943.
He said: “If the Ukrainian claims of Russian tank losses are correct, they are at a rate comparable to what the Germans were losing during the Battle of Kursk.
“A major difference, the Germans lost many old and obsolete tanks at Kursk, many Panzer Mark IIIs.
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“However, as the Germans were making many newer and better designs, these losses were not crippling.
“The Russians are losing their frontline armor in Ukraine, and have little ability to quickly compensate for losses, and will have to use older, less well-maintained armored fighting vehicles.
“In summary, Russian losses (if verified) are numerically similar to German losses in the Battle of Kursk, but qualitatively much worse and difficult to replace.”
The Russian military has deployed its most advanced tank, the T-90M, to Ukraine as it seeks to step up its new offensive in the east of the country.
The T-90M was first issued to Russian military units in 2020 and is the most technologically advanced combat vehicle in Moscow’s weapons arsenal.
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It is believed that the Russian army has about 100 of these new tanks in its possession.
However, one T-90M was withdrawn by Ukrainian forces days after deployment.
Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko published a photo of the burnt-out vehicle last week, while reporting on Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russian forces in the Kharkiv region.
Tsaplienko shared a photo of himself standing in front of the wrecked tank, jokingly telling his followers that the wrecked vehicle is “hot, it’s smoking hot”.
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said the tank was hit by a US Javelin anti-tank missile system near Izyum.