Bato Basanov was part of a record-breaking tank biathlon team that took part in war games last year. The event was attended by both Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and head of the Russian army Valery Gerasimov. The 25-year-old from the Buryat Republic showcased his outstanding skills as a sharpshooter after hitting every single target while travelling at speeds of up to 50mph.
The war games took place at the Alabino training ground in the Moscow region and involved the participation of 19 countries including China in combat games.
Later, the corporal was filmed being presented to Gerasimov, who last week was almost killed himself while visiting Russia’s frontline near Izyum.
Basanov was hailed for “glorifying Russia by becoming a world champion in tank biathlon as part of his team” after the event.
However, the Russian soldier was killed when his tank was hit during a firefight with Ukrainian forces.
Commenting on the news, Victor Kovalenko, a Ukrainian army veteran, tweeted: “Everything is fake in Russia including military honours.
“This Russian 2021 champion in tank biatlon Jr. Sgt. Bato Basanov from Ulan-Ude city couldn’t survive the battle against Ukrainian defenders.”
Putin’s army has suffered huge losses to both personnel and equipment since he launched his invasion towards the end of February.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces claim that Russia has lost over 1,000 tanks, as well as around 25,000 troops.
Phillips P. OBrien, a professor of Strategic Studies at St Andrews University, compared Russian tank losses to those of Nazi Germany during the 1943 Battle of the Kursk.
He said: “If 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.
“One major difference, the Germans lost many old and obsolete tanks at Kursk, lots of Panzer Mark IIIs.
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“However as the Germans were making many more newer, better models, these losses were not crippling.
“The Russians are losing their front-line armour in Ukraine, and have little ability to make up the losses quickly, and will have to use older, less well maintained armoured fighting vehicles.
“In summation, Russian losses (if verified) are numerically similar to the German losses in the Battle of Kursk, but qualitatively much worse and difficult to replace.”
The Russian army has deployed its most advanced tank, the T-90M, to Ukraine as it seeks to gain momentum in 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 battle vehicle in Moscow’s weapons’ arsenal.
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It is believed that the Russian army has around 100 of these new tanks in its possession.
However, one T-90M was taken out by Ukrainian forces within days of being deployed.
Ukrainian journalist Andriy Tsaplienko posted 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 ruined tank, jokingly telling his followers that the destroyed vehicle is “hot, it’s smokin’ hot.”
Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said the tank was hit by an American Javelin anti-tank missile system near Izyum.