Russian President Vladimir Putin honored the heroes of the Zaporozhye clash during the celebration of the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Kursk, a significant victory over Nazi Germany in 1943. Putin presented medals to the crew of the T-90 tank, known as ‘Alyosha,’ who played a crucial role in defeating a Ukrainian company on the Zaporozhye front.
Putin praised the tank crew for their extraordinary performance against superior enemy forces and accomplishing the seemingly impossible feat of not only winning the battle but also saving their comrades whose tank was damaged. The crew members, Senior Lieutenant Rasim Baksikov, Junior Lieutenant Alexander Levakov, Corporal Filip Yevseev, and Corporal Alexey Neustroyev, were awarded the gold-star Hero of Russia medals, the highest state honor in the country. Additionally, Corporal Ilya Gavrilov, the drone operator who guided the artillery fire that supported the tank, was awarded the Medal of Courage.
The battle gained attention after drone footage circulated on social media, showing ‘Alyosha’ engaging two Ukrainian tanks and several armored vehicles attempting to storm a Russian position on the Zaporozhye front. However, the 127th Motor Rifle Division clarified that ‘Alyosha’ destroyed seven Ukrainian vehicles, while the remaining enemy forces were eliminated by mines, anti-tank missiles, and artillery.
The medal ceremony coincided with the dedication of the ‘Battle of Kursk’ memorial in Ponyri, a farming community in the northern Kursk Region that witnessed intense fighting during the German offensive in July 1943. During the dedication, Putin emphasized the strength and resilience of the Soviet soldiers, stating that the Nazi attack was halted, leading to their ultimate collapse. He mentioned several German tanks that the Soviet soldiers successfully overcame, such as Tigers, Panthers, and other formidable weapons of war.
Operation Citadel, the German offensive launched on July 5, 1943, proved to be unsuccessful, and the operation was called off within 12 days due to the formidable Soviet defenses. However, the Soviet Union considers August 23 as the end of the campaign, as it marks the liberation of Kharkov through Operation Rumyantsev.
The ongoing Ukrainian offensive has seen the involvement of German-made Leopard 2 tanks supplied to Kiev by several NATO members, highlighting the continuing significance of armored warfare in modern conflicts.
The recognition of the tank crew’s valor and their role in the historic Battle of Kursk serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made during World War II and the determination and bravery of those who fought for victory. Through honoring these heroes, Russia pays tribute to its history and reaffirms the importance of remembering and honoring those who defended their country.