Biden says US will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to significantly increase firepower

Washington – President Biden announced on Wednesday that the US will send 31 top personnel Main battle tank M-1 Abrams to Ukraine, fulfilling an important request from Kyiv that will provide a major boost to Ukrainian firepower in the coming months.

“Today I am announcing that the United States will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, equivalent to one Ukrainian battalion,” Biden said at the White House, flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The security package is worth around $400 million, the Pentagon said.

The move comes after Germany announced it deploy quickly 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allowing Western partners to re-export their own, a move Mr Biden praised. France, Britain, Finland, the Netherlands and other nations are also sending vital security aid, Mr Biden noted, stressing that the United States move is part of a concerted effort by Western allies.

“Today’s announcement builds on the hard work and commitment of countries around the world, led by the United States of America, to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Biden said. “This is what helping Ukraine, protecting and defending Ukrainian land is all about. It is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia…where they belong, this war would be over today. ”

Delivery of the Abrams tanks will take several months, given the time it will take to procure them and train Ukrainian troops for their use.

A U.S. Army M-1 Abrams tank fires during a NATO exercise in Latvia March 26, 2021.
A U.S. Army M-1 Abrams tank fires during a NATO exercise in Latvia March 26, 2021.


Speaking on the phone to reporters predicting the president’s announcement, senior government officials said the decision to deploy the tanks was a “continuation of our efforts to provide Ukraine with the capabilities it needs to continue to better defend itself.” Mr Biden spoke with leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Britain on Wednesday morning ahead of his comments.

The M-1 Abrams is the US military’s main armor system and “the most capable tank in the world,” said Mr. Biden. Ukrainian officials have asked Western allies to provide them with tanks to support spring counter-offensives aimed at retaking areas held by entrenched Russian troops. The U.S. and more than 50 other countries pledged to provide about 500 more armored vehicles during talks last week.

The Abrams tanks and other armored vehicles are key to helping Ukraine fight the Russians in open terrain such as that found in the mostly flat Donbass region.

US officials have resisted arming Ukrainians with Abrams tanks for weeks, arguing that the Leopard tanks, which use diesel instead of kerosene to power the Abrams, are better suited to Ukrainians’ immediate needs cover on the battlefield. but Print from other allies – notably Poland and the Baltic states – and the Ukrainians themselves to supply Kyiv with advanced armor systems had been growing for weeks.

One of the US officials on Wednesday said the tanks would help Ukraine defend against expected Russian offensives in the spring and help Ukrainian troops retake territory.

“We want to make sure they have the right skills to not just defend against the Russian attack – and we expect Mr Putin and the Russian military to look to go on the offensive here in the coming weeks and months.” how the weather is getting better – but also that they have the ability to retake, retake their territory,” the official said, including Crimea.

The US announcement coincided with the birthday of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He told a German TV station on Tuesday that Western allies’ tanks will give his soldiers on the front lines a much-needed morale boost.

“They only do one very important thing – they motivate our soldiers to fight for their own values, because they show that the whole world is with you,” Zelenskyy said.

The tanks will not come directly from the US arsenal. The administration will instead procure the systems with funds from its Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. This decision, coupled with the extensive training required to operate the tanks, means it will be a while before the vehicles are in Ukrainian hands.

“We’re talking months instead of weeks,” said a senior administration official.

“[The Pentagon] “We are currently working on the mechanisms to deliver the fuel and equipment Ukraine needs to operate and maintain the Abrams,” added another official, who will be deployed to the battlefield in the coming weeks and months.”

David Martin, Eleanor Watson and Haley Ott contributed coverage. Biden says US will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to significantly increase firepower

Rick Schindler

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