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Russia claims to have remotely detonated tank laden with explosives, in apparent new tactic

By Tim Lister, Pauline Lockwood and Duarte Mendonca, CNN

(CNN) — Russia’s Ministry of Defense has claimed that a Ukrainian stronghold was destroyed by a remotely-controlled tank packed with a huge amount of explosives, in what appears to be a new battlefield tactic.

In a post on its Telegram channel at the weekend, the ministry said that “about 3.5 tons of TNT and 5 FAB-100 bombs” were packed into the tank. FAB-100 bombs normally carry a 100-kilogram (220-pound) payload.

In a video shared by the ministry on Saturday, a Russian tank commander, callsign “Bernaul,” said he was assigned with the task of setting up the tank and executing the attack.

“About 300 meters (984 feet) away from the enemy, the tank operator put the vehicle on manual gas, directing it [to the enemy’s] direction. He jumped out and went to the rear. I stayed behind to observe, and after the vehicle approached the enemy’s positions, I detonated it by radio control,” the commander said.

“The explosion was very serious, there were a lot of explosives … as a result, according to radio intercept data, the enemy suffered significant losses,” he added.

Drone video shows the tank static after apparently hitting a mine close to Ukrainian lines. There is then a huge explosion, but it’s unclear why. A moment before the tank explodes, there appears to be a flash coming from Ukrainian positions, which may have been an attempt to destroy the tank.

On Sunday, a prominent Russian war blogger, “Voennyi Osvedomitel,” shared a video from the pro-Russia “Romanov” channel of drone footage that shows the tank detonating. Osvedomitel said the tank hit a mine before reaching its target.

“Sending an unmanned kamikaze tank filled with 6 tons of TNT to Ukrainian positions in Mariinka. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it, blown up by a mine,” he wrote.

It’s not possible to geolocate the incident but the Mariinka area of Donetsk has seen heavy fighting since the Russian invasion began.

CNN has reached out to Ukrainian authorities about the incident.

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