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Conversely, Biden authorizes the shipment of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

President Biden on Wednesday agreed for the US to send 31 Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine, just hours after Chancellor Olaf Scholtz announced that Ukraine would also receive Leopard 2 tanks from Berlin as Russia plans a major offensive.

The President, along with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of Defense Antony Blinken, described the vehicles as the “most capable tanks in the world” and said they would “enhance Ukraine’s capabilities on the battlefield.”

Biden said Western aid to Ukraine “is not an offensive threat to Russia.”

“This is about freedom, freedom for Ukraine, freedom everywhere,” he added.

UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR: GERMANY AGREES TO SEND 2 BATTALION OF LEOPARD-2 TANKS AFTER HEAVY PRESSURE

Senior defense officials told reporters on Wednesday that alongside tank deliveries from the US, Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden, as well as tank deliveries to be announced by other European nations in the coming days, Ukraine can expect to receive “hundreds” to obtain. of much-needed tanks.

Wednesday’s decisions come after weeks of stalled and frustrated negotiations with Germany, which a senior defense official described as a “product of good diplomatic talks”.

A U.S. Army M1A2 Abrams main battle tank used by the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team for military exercises is pictured December 3, 2022 at the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia.
(MATEUSZ SLODKOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

“It’s really remarkable when you look back over the past year to see the extraordinary shift in German security policy,” another senior defense official told reporters by way of background.

While Leopard 2 tanks from EU countries will require minimal turnaround time and will meet the immediate needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, shipping Abrams tanks to Ukraine will take months.

“Along with this short-term commitment that the Germans have made to Leopards, we think this contribution of ours with the Abrams represents the long-term commitment,” an official said.

Senior US defense officials, including Austin, have expressed concerns about sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine because of the cost, maintenance requirements, and the increased training time required to attune Ukrainian soldiers to the combat vehicles.

The US Abrams tanks were seen at the Nowa Deba Training Ground in Nowa Deba, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland, on September 21, 2022.

The US Abrams tanks were seen at the Nowa Deba Training Ground in Nowa Deba, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, Poland, on September 21, 2022.
(Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

GERMANY ‘GUESSES THE MOMENT NOW’ AS IT FINALLY AGREES TO SEND TANKS TO UKRAINE, SAYS GRAHAM

But earlier this month, Germany indicated it would not agree to sending its tanks unless the US did likewise, citing concerns about an escalation of the war – a concern that caused eye rolls internationally when the deadly war enters its 11th month.

Senior defense officials declined to confirm whether the decision to send in the battalion of Abrams tanks was a condition from Berlin or a motivation from Washington to get the ball rolling with Leopard tanks.

The move was instead touted as a sign of long-term support for Ukraine.

“Abrams tanks are the best in the world,” said a senior defense official. “This is a tremendous new capability that Ukraine will gain to bolster its long-term defenses.”

The Pentagon is also working through the fuel and maintenance requirements required by the Abram tanks, and the US will also send eight M88 recovery vehicles in support of the top tanks.

A U.S. Army soldier points the way to an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank used for military exercises of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team at the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia, December 3, 2022.

A U.S. Army soldier points the way to an M1A2 Abrams main battle tank used for military exercises of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team at the Baltic Container Terminal in Gdynia, December 3, 2022.
(MATEUSZ SLODKOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

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The US has already delivered thousands of combat vehicles, including 1,700 Humvees, and earlier this month pledged to send another 500 armored vehicles of various types.

The Abrams tanks will be procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and will not come directly from US inventories.

It remains unclear how long it will take to get the Abrams tanks operational in Ukraine, and defense officials did not say where the training will take place, although it has been confirmed that the training would take place outside of Ukraine.


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