Armored vehicles of Yugoslavia. Part 6. Wars on the ruins. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo. Macedonia

Armored vehicles of Yugoslavia. Part 6. Wars on the ruins. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo. Macedonia
Armored vehicles of Yugoslavia. Part 6. Wars on the ruins. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo. Macedonia
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Bosnian War (1992-1995)

No sooner had the shots died down in Croatia than the flames of civil war flared up in neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Historically, in this Yugoslav republic, as in a cauldron, the most diverse nations and nationalities, professing, in addition, different religions, were mixed. In 1991, Muslim Bosniaks lived there (in fact, the same Serbs, but converted to Islam under the Turks) - 44 percent of the population, the Serbs themselves - 32 percent and Croats - 24 percent. "God forbid, Bosnia will explode," repeated many in Yugoslavia during the clashes in Slovenia and Croatia, hoping that it might blow over. However, the worst assumptions have come true: since the spring of 1992, Bosnia has become the scene of fierce battles that Europe has not seen since the Second World War.

The chronology of this bloody conflict is as follows. Back in October 1991, the assembly of the republic proclaimed its sovereignty and announced its secession from the SFRY. On February 29, 1992, on the recommendation of the European Union (EU), a referendum was held on the republic's state independence, which was boycotted by the local Serbs. Immediately after the referendum, an event took place in the capital of the Republic of Sarajevo, which can be considered the starting point of the outbreak of the war. On March 1, 1992, masked men fired at a Serbian wedding procession in front of the Orthodox Church. The groom's father was killed, several people were wounded. The attackers fled (their identities have not yet been established). Barricades appeared on the streets of the city.

The United States and the EU added fuel to the fire by adopting a joint Declaration on the positive consideration of the issue of recognizing the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina on March 10, 1992, within the existing administrative boundaries. Although it was already clear to everyone that a united Bosnia and Herzegovina was out of the question, ethnic disengagement was the only way to avoid war. However, Muslim leader Aliya Izetbegovich, a former soldier of the SS "Khandshar" division, while defending the concept of a unified Muslim state, openly admitted that he was sacrificing peace for independence.

On April 4, 1992, Izetbegovic announced the mobilization of all police officers and reservists in Sarajevo, as a result of which Serb leaders urged Serbs to leave the city. On April 6, 1992, the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, led by Aliya Izetbegovic, was officially recognized by the West. On the same day, armed clashes broke out in Bosnia between representatives of the main national-religious groups: Croats, Muslims and Serbs. The Serbian response to Muslims and the West was the creation of the Republika Srpska. It happened on April 7, 1992 in the village of Pale, near Sarajevo. Very soon Sarajevo itself was blocked by Serb armed groups.

It would seem that the civil war that had died down for a while in Yugoslavia flared up with renewed vigor, since there was more than enough "combustible material" for it in the republic. In the SFRY of Bosnia, the role of a kind of "citadel" was assigned, up to 60 percent of the military industry was concentrated here, there were simply huge reserves of various military equipment. The events around the JNA garrisons in the republic began to develop according to the scenario already tested in Slovenia and Croatia.They were immediately blocked, and on April 27, 1992, the leadership of Bosnia and Herzegovina demanded the withdrawal of the army from Bosnia or its transfer under the civilian control of the republic. The situation was deadlocked and it was only possible to resolve it on May 3, when Izetbegovic, returning from Portugal, was detained by the officers of the JNA at the Sarajevo airport. The condition for his release was to ensure the unhindered exit of military units from the blocked barracks. Despite Izetbegovich's promise, Muslim militants did not comply with the agreements and the JNA columns leaving the republic were fired upon. During one of these attacks, Muslim militants managed to capture 19 T-34-85 tanks, which became the first tanks of the Bosnian army.

Armored vehicles of Yugoslavia. Part 6. Wars on the ruins. Bosnia and Herzegovina. Kosovo. Macedonia

The destroyed JNA convoy, Sarajevo, January 1992

The Yugoslav People's Army officially left Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 12, 1992, shortly after the country's independence in April. However, many of the senior officers of the JNA (including Ratko Mladic) went to serve in the newly created Armed Forces of the Republika Srpska. JNA soldiers, who were originally from BiH, also went to serve in the Bosnian Serb army.

JNA handed over to the Bosnian Serb army 73 modern tanks M-84 - 73, 204 T-55, T-34-85 tanks, 5 PT-76 amphibious tanks, 118 M-80A infantry fighting vehicles, 84 M-60 tracked armored personnel carriers, 19 KShM BTR- 50PK / PU, 23 wheeled armored personnel carriers BOV-VP, a number of BRDM-2, 24 122-mm self-propelled howitzers 2S1 "Carnation", 7 self-propelled guns M-18 "Halket", 7 self-propelled guns M-36 "Jackson", and much more weapons and military equipment.

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M-84 tanks of the Bosnian Serb army

At the same time, the armies of their opponents were sorely lacking in heavy weapons. This was especially true of the Bosnian Muslims, who had virtually no tanks and heavy weapons. The Croats, who created their Republic of Herceg-Bosna, were helped by weapons and military equipment by Croatia, which also sent its military units to participate in the war. In total, according to Western data, the Croats entered Bosnia about 100 tanks, mainly T-55. It is quite obvious that they could not seize such a number of vehicles from the JNA. Most likely, here we can already talk about the supply of a certain number of military vehicles to the zone of armed conflict. There is evidence that from the arsenals of the former army of the GDR.

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Croatian T-55 tank in Bosnia

Having received such a large amount of heavy weapons, the Serbs launched a large-scale offensive, capturing 70% of the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the first major battles was the attack on the positions of the Bosnians in the area of ​​the city of Bosanski Brod. It was attended by 1.5 thousand Serbs with the support of 16 T-55 and M-84 tanks.

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T-55 tanks of the Bosnian Serb army with homemade anti-cumulative rubber screens

Sarajevo was surrounded and besieged. Moreover, the Muslim detachments of the autonomists of Fikret Abdic were on the side of the Serbs.

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Column of Serbian armored vehicles (T-55 tanks, ZSU M-53/59 "Prague" and BMP M-80A) near Sarajevo airport

In 1993, there were no major changes at the front against the Serbian army. However, at this time, the Bosnians began a fierce conflict with the Bosnian Croats in Central Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Croatian T-55 firing at Muslims

The Croatian Defense Veche (HVO) began active hostilities against the Bosnians with the aim of seizing Muslim-controlled areas in Central Bosnia. Fierce fighting in Central Bosnia, the siege of Mostar and ethnic cleansing took place almost all year. The Bosnian army at that time was fighting heavy battles with the units of the Croatian Herceg Bosna and the Croatian army (which supported the Bosnian Croats). However, in these battles, the Muslims managed to seize some heavy weapons from the Croats, including 13 M-47 tanks.

This time was the most difficult for the Bosnian army. Surrounded on all sides by enemy Serb and Croatian forces, the Bosnian army controlled only the central regions of the country. This isolation severely affected the supply of weapons and ammunition.In 1994, the Washington Agreement was concluded, which ended the Bosnian-Croatian confrontation. From that moment on, the Bosnian army and the KhVO waged a joint struggle against the army of the Bosnian Serbs.

After the end of the war with the Croats, the Bosnian army received a new ally in the war against the Serbs and significantly improved its position at the front.

In 1995, Muslim units suffered a series of defeats in Eastern Bosnia and lost the enclaves of Srebrenica and Zepa. However, in Western Bosnia, with the help of the Croatian army, HVO units and NATO aviation (which intervened in the Bosnian war on the side of the Muslim-Croatian alliance), Muslims carried out a number of successful operations against the Serbs.

The armies of Bosnia and Croatia seized large territories in Western Bosnia, destroyed the Serbian Krajina and rebellious Western Bosnia, and created a serious threat to Banja Luka. 1995 was marked by successful operations of the Bosniaks in Western Bosnia against Serbs and Muslim autonomists. In 1995, following NATO intervention in the conflict, the Srebrenica massacre, the Dayton Accords were signed, ending the Bosnian War.

By the end of the war, the tank fleet of the Muslim-Croatian federation consisted of: 3 captured from the Serbs M-84, 60 T-55, 46 T-34-85, 13 M-47, 1 PT-76, 3 BRDM-2, less than 10 ZSU- 57-2, about 5 ZSU M-53/59 "Prague", most of them captured in battles from the Serbs or sent from Croatia.

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Tank M-84 army of Bosnian Muslims

It is worth noting that in the war in Bosnia, armored vehicles were used very limitedly, there were no serious tank battles. Tanks were mainly used as mobile firing points to support infantry. All this made it possible to successfully use even such outdated models as the T-34-85, M-47, M-18 Helcat and M-36 Jackson self-propelled guns.

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Tank T-34-85 with homemade anti-cumulative screens made of rubber of the Bosnian Serb army

The main enemy of armored vehicles were various ATGMs and RPGs, for protection from which additional armor and various homemade anti-cumulative screens were used, made from various improvised means, for example, from rubber, tires, sandbags.

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Floating tank PT-76 with homemade anti-cumulative screens made of rubber of the Bosnian Serb Army

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Croatian T-55 with additional rubber armor

In such conditions, the ZSU became the most effective weapons systems, used to destroy infantry and light fortifications: ZSU-57-2, and especially the M-53/59 "Praga" with its two 30-mm guns. It was repeatedly noted that even her first shots with the characteristic "doo-doo-doo" were enough to stop the enemy's attack.

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ZSU-57-2 of the Bosnian Serb army with a makeshift wheelhouse on the roof of the tower, intended for its additional protection of the crew

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ZSU M-53/59 of the Bosnian Serb army with additional armor made of rubber, in the background BMP M-80A and ZSU BOV-3

The lack of heavy equipment forced both sides to create and use a variety of hybrids: for example, this Bosnian So-76 self-propelled gun with the turret of the American M-18 Helcat self-propelled gun with a 76-mm gun on the T-55 chassis.

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Or this Serbian T-55 with an openly installed 40-mm Bofors anti-aircraft gun instead of the turret.

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American armored car M-8 "Greyhound" with a tower of the Yugoslavian BMP M-80A with a 20-mm cannon of the army of the Muslim-Croatian federation.

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The Bosnian war was probably the last war in which an armored train called "Krajina Express" was used in hostilities. It was created by the Krajina Serbs at the Knin railway depot in the summer of 1991 and was successfully used until 1995, until in August 1995, during the Croatian Operation Tempest, it was surrounded and derailed by its own crew.

The armored train included:

- anti-tank self-propelled artillery mount M18;

- 20-mm and 40-mm anti-aircraft gun mounts;

- launcher of 57 mm rockets;

- 82 mm mortar;

- 76 mm gun ZiS-3.

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War in Kosovo (1998-1999)

On April 27, 1992, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was created, which included two republics: Serbia and Montenegro.The newly created armed forces of the FRY received the bulk of the JNA's heavy weapons.

The armed forces of the FRY consisted of: 233 M-84, 63 T-72, 727 T-55, 422 T-34-85, 203 American 90-mm self-propelled guns M-36 "Jackson", 533 BMP M-80A, 145 armored personnel carriers M-60R, 102 BTR-50PK and PU, 57 wheeled armored personnel carriers BOV-VP, 38 BRDM-2, 84 self-propelled ATGM BOV-1.

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Tanks M-84 of the Armed Forces of the FRY

In 1995, after the signing of the Dayton Accords, an order was issued to reduce offensive weapons in accordance with regional quotas, which were determined by the United States and the UN. For the “thirty-fours” of the Yugoslav army, this was tantamount to a sentence - tanks of 10 tank battalions were melted down. However, the number of modern M-84s has increased, some of which were transferred to the FRY by the Bosnian Serbs in order to avoid their transfer to NATO forces.

The obsolete M60R armored personnel carriers were handed over to the police, and some were destroyed.

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M-60R armored personnel carrier of the Serbian police in Kosovo

The West was not happy with the existence of even such a "small" Yugoslavia. The stake was placed on the Albanians living in the Serbian province of Kosovo. On February 28, 1998, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) proclaimed the beginning of an armed struggle against the Serbs. Thanks to the riots in Albania in 1997, a stream of weapons poured into Kosovo from the plundered warehouses of the Albanian army, incl. anti-tank: such as the Type 69 RPG (Chinese copy of the RPG-7).

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Militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army in ambush with RPG "Type 69"

The Serbs responded promptly: additional militia forces with armored vehicles were brought into the region, which launched a counter-terrorist struggle.

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Column of Serbian police forces: in the foreground a wheeled armored personnel carrier BOV-VP, behind it two armored UAZ vehicles and independently armored trucks

Light armored cars based on UAZ took an active part in the hostilities on the part of the Serbian police.

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Self-made armored vehicles were also created, for example, on the basis of the standard army truck TAM-150.

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However, the army soon came to the aid of the police, providing heavy weapons.

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Serbian police, with the support of the M-84 tank, carry out a sweep of an Albanian village

In the course of the battles, the ZSU M-53/59 "Praga" proved to be the best again.

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By the beginning of 1999, through the joint efforts of the Serbian army and police, the main Albanian terrorist gangs had been destroyed or driven into Albania. However, unfortunately, the Serbs did not manage to completely take control of the border with Albania, from where the flow of weapons continued to be supplied.

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ZSU BOV-3 of the Serbian police during the operation in Kosovo, 1999

The West was not satisfied with this state of affairs and a decision was made to launch a military operation. The reason for it was the so-called. the "Racak incident" on January 15, 1999, where a battle took place between Serbian police and Albanian separatists. All those killed during the battle, both Serbs and terrorists, were declared "civilians shot by the bloodthirsty Serbian military." From that moment, NATO began to prepare for a military operation..

In turn, the Serbian generals were also preparing for war. The equipment was camouflaged, false positions were equipped, and mock-ups of military equipment were made.

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Disguised Yugoslavian 2S1 "Carnation"

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Yugoslavian "tank", which was destroyed on the third attempt by the A-10 attack aircraft.

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Yugoslavian "anti-aircraft gun"

As decoys were used 200 outdated American self-propelled guns M-36 "Jackson", delivered in the 50s under Tito, and about 40 Romanian armored personnel carriers TAV-71M, which were still subject to reduction under the Dayton agreements signed by the FRY.

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Yugoslav self-propelled guns M-36 "Jackson" "destroyed" by NATO aircraft

On March 27, NATO launched Operation Resolute Force. Military strategic objects in major cities of Yugoslavia, including the capital, Belgrade, as well as numerous civilian objects, including residential ones, were subjected to air raids. According to the first estimates of the US Department of Defense, the Yugoslav Army lost 120 tanks, 220 other armored vehicles and 450 artillery pieces.The estimates of the European SHAPE Command on September 11, 1999 were slightly less optimistic - 93 tanks destroyed, 153 different armored vehicles and 389 artillery pieces. The American weekly Newsweek published a refutation with detailed clarifications after the US military announced its successes. As a result, it turned out that the losses of the Yugoslavian army in NATO were in some cases overestimated tenfold. A special American commission (Allied Force Munitions Assessment Team), sent to Kosovo in 2000, found the following destroyed Yugoslavian equipment there: 14 tanks, 18 armored personnel carriers, half of which were hit by Albanian militants from RPGs, and 20 artillery pieces and mortars.

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Yugoslavian BMP M-80A destroyed by NATO aircraft

Such insignificant losses, naturally, could not affect the combat capability of the Serbian units, which continued to prepare to repel the NATO ground offensive. But, on June 3, 1999, in the tf and under pressure from Russia, Milosevic decided to withdraw the Yugoslav troops from Kosovo. On June 20, the last Serbian serviceman left Kosovo, where NATO tanks entered.

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Column of Yugoslav troops leaving Kosovo

As the American general overseeing the withdrawal of the Yugoslav troops said:

"It was an undefeated army leaving …"

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Yugoslavian tank M-84, transported from Kosovo

Nothing was decided and the rush of our paratroopers to Pristina. Serbia has lost Kosovo. And as a result of NATO-inspired street demonstrations in Belgrade on October 5, 2000, which went down in history as the "bulldozer revolution", Milosevic was overthrown. On April 1, 2001, he was arrested at his villa, and on June 28 of the same year, he was secretly transferred to the International War Crimes Tribunal in the former Yugoslavia in The Hague, where he died under mysterious circumstances in 2006.

However, a Conflict soon broke out in the Presevo Valley. Albanian militants created the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedzhi and Bujanovac, already located on the territory of Serbia, fought in a 5-kilometer "ground security zone" created in 1999 on the territory of Yugoslavia following the NATO War against Yugoslavia. The Serbian side did not have the right to keep armed groups in the NZB, except for the local police, which were allowed to have only small arms. After the overthrow of Milosevic, the new leadership of Serbia was allowed to clear the area from Albanian gangs. From 24 to 27 May, during Operation Bravo, the Serbs of police and special forces, with the support of army armored units, liberated the occupied territories. Albanian militants were either killed or fled to Kosovo, where they surrendered to NATO forces.

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Serbian special forces, with the support of the M-80A infantry fighting vehicle, conducts an operation to clean up Presevo

On February 4, 2003, the FRY army was transformed into the army of Serbia and Montenegro. The last Yugoslav military association essentially ceased to exist. After the referendum on the independence of Montenegro on May 21, 2006, as a result of which 55.5% of voters voted for the republic's withdrawal from the union, Montenegro on June 3, 2006, and Serbia on June 5, 2006 declared independence. The State Union of Serbia and Montenegro disintegrated into Serbia and Montenegro, and ceased to exist on June 5, 2006.

Macedonia (2001)

Surprisingly, Macedonia became the only state of that period that had a “soft divorce” with Yugoslavia in March 1992. From the JNA, the Macedonians were left with only five T-34-85 and 10 anti-tank self-propelled guns M18 "Helket", which could only be used for training personnel.

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Withdrawal of JNA units from Macedonia

Since nothing else was foreseen in the near future, all the tanks were delivered for overhaul, and in June 1993 the army received the first combat-ready T-34-85. Over the next year, two more tanks of this type were received, which allowed the Macedonians to continue training until the start of deliveries of 100 T-55 medium tanks from Bulgaria in 1998.

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Macedonian T-55

After the actions of Albanian militants in Kosovo in 1999 were crowned with success, in the part of Macedonia inhabited by Albanians, armed formations began to be created, where weapons began to flow from Kosovo.

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Weapons seized from Albanian militants

The association of these organizations was named the National Liberation Army. In January 2001, the militants began active operations. The Macedonian army and police tried to disarm the Albanian troops, but met with armed resistance. The NATO leadership condemned the actions of the extremists, but refused to help the Macedonian authorities. During the armed conflict that lasted in November 2001, the Macedonian army and police used T-55, BRDM-2 tanks, German TM-170 and BTR-70 armored personnel carriers also supplied from Germany.

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German armored personnel carrier TM-170 of the Macedonian police during an operation against Albanian militants

The Macedonian special forces actively used 12 BTR-80s purchased in Russia.

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During the fighting, several Macedonian T-55, BTR-70 and TM-170 were destroyed or captured by Albanian militants.

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Macedonian T-55 captured by Albanian militants

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