Despite Russian warnings, the US will provide Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks
The U.S. announced on Wednesday it would provide Ukraine with 31 Abrams tanks to help repel Russian forces, a similar move that Germany announced earlier in the day and despite dire warnings about an escalation of the conflict. from Moscow.
The double announcement will come as a major relief to Kyiv, which has been asking for months of Western heavy tanks to help repel a Russian invasion.
The U.S. commitment comes after Germany approved the long-awaited delivery of its Leopard 2 fighter jet to Ukraine — which had requested an American tank commitment before agreeing to send its tank.
Unlike the German tanks, the M1 Abrams will be procured with Ukrainian assistance rather than directly from existing US stocks, meaning they won’t hit the battlefield for months.
US President Joe Biden, who spoke to key European allies in combat support for Kiev on Wednesday, spoke at the White House about the supply of US tanks, stressing that US tanks are not a “threat of attack on Russia”.
The move was a significant reversal for the United States after defense officials had repeatedly described the Abrams as unfit for the task.
“Tanks are complex systems that require significant training and maintenance,” the official said, adding that the United States “will now begin work on a comprehensive training program.”
The US Department of Defense is also “developing mechanisms to provide Ukraine with the fuel and equipment needed to operate and maintain the Abrams,” the official added.
Defense officials have raised doubts in recent days about the suitability of Abrams aircraft, first deployed by the US military in 1980, in Ukraine.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the tank is a “very capable battlefield platform.” This is also a very complex ability.”
“Like everything that we give to Ukraine, we want to make sure that they are able to maintain it, support it and train it,” he said.
Asked on Wednesday whether Germany had asked Washington to hand over the Abrams as a condition for handing over the Leopards, a senior official said Berlin would have to comment on the timing of its announcement, but said the United States had “closely coordinated our security assistance with its allies and partners.” partners”. throughout the conflict.”
The delivery of the tanks, announced by the United States and Germany, follows recent promises of dozens more armored personnel carriers to aid Kiev’s offensive operations.
Washington said it would provide 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 109 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, Germany about 40 Marder vehicles, Britain 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks and France AMX-10 RC light tanks.
“You will see hundreds of armored personnel carriers – highly capable vehicles – and tanks arriving in Ukraine. The main thing is that they come with trained crews,” said a senior US official.
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