WASHINGTON—As the nation's capital prepares for President Donald J. Trump's Independence Day military parade, sightseers are being treated to a fleet of military vehicles in and around the National Mall the likes of which hasn't been seen since the dispersal of the Bonus Army in 1932. But few expected to see T-14 “Armata” main battle tanks sent all the way from the Moscow to participate in the extravaganza.
Duffel Blog photographers captured images of the advanced fighting vehicles staged near the United States Capitol Building. Their crews had opened the hatches of the vehicles and were standing around them casually.
"These tanks are an incredibly lethal tool of gray zone hybrid warfare," Wyatt Allen, an armored vehicle expert at the Center for Advanced Strategic Studies and former Army intelligence analyst, told reporters. Allen said the “Armata” features advanced technology including a 125-mm meme cannon and state-of-the-art electronic warfare equipment that prevents its crew from sending selfies while invading foreign countries. It is currently in production and is expected to replace other Russian tanks in the late 2020s. Only a handful of the tanks are in use by the Russian Army already, he added.
The prototype vehicles near the Capitol displayed prominent Russian markings, but were manned by crews wearing green balaclavas and no identifiable patches or insignia.
"We are very polite people," said one of the tank crewman, who like all of his colleagues declined to give his name. He was trying to figure out how to smoke a cigarette through his balaclava while he spoke. "We look forward very much to the American Victory Day parade. Make America great again!" he added.
In a statement, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the tanks were being sent as a "goodwill gesture" meant to remind Americans of the “key role that Russia played in allowing the thirteen colonies to declare independence from the British Empire in 1776. We must not forget our long history of mutual cooperation and respect.”
“And also, we are concerned about ethnic Russians in Alaska. But that is problem for other day."