The Biden administration could approve the sending of M1 Abrams tanks into Ukraine in a reverse move, U.S. officials announced Tuesday. This is as international resistance to sending tanks to the front against the Russians starts to diminish. Although the decision could be made as soon as Wednesday, it could take several months or even years to deliver the tanks.
According to U.S. officials, details are still being worked on. According to one official, the tanks will be purchased under the upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package. This provides long-term funding for weapons and equipment that can be purchased from commercial vendors.
According to one official, the U.S. announcement will be made in coordination with Germany’s announcement that it will accept Poland’s request for German-made Leopard 2 tank transport to Ukraine. Officials spoke under condition of anonymity as the decision is not yet public.
The administration has agreed to send Abrams to Germany at an unspecified date under the assistance initiative. This allows it to fulfill the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s request for an American commitment, without the need to immediately send the tanks.
Most of the aid that has been sent in to the 11-month-old war was obtained through a separate program using Pentagon stocks to quickly get weapons to Ukraine. It would take months to transport tanks to Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces on them, even with that program.
It is not known how many tanks would need to be approved.
The U.S. has so far resisted the offer of its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. This was due to the complex maintenance and logistical problems associated with high-tech vehicles. Washington believes that it would be more productive for Ukraine to send German Leopards, since many of its allies already have them. Also, Ukrainian troops would require less training than the more complex Abrams.
Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense, stated that the Abrams was a complex, costly, difficult to maintain, and difficult to train on piece. Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary, stated that one thing he has always been focused on is that the Ukrainians should not receive systems that they cannot repair or sustain and that they can’t afford long-term.
An American official who is familiar with White House thinking stated that the initial hesitation of the administration was due to concerns over the training and maintenance of the tanks. According to the official, although such plans are in place now, it may take some time for them to be implemented.
The Pentagon’s spokesman Brig. General Pat Ryder stated that he did not have any information to share on any U.S. decision concerning Abrams tanks. He said that he had provided Ukraine with the necessary training and support capabilities for any type of system.
This administration’s decision to reverse is just days after more than 50 European defense officials met in Germany to discuss Ukraine’s war needs. and battle tank were the main topic.
Ukrainian leaders are urgently asking for tanks. But Germany has resisted increasing pressure to either supply its own tanks or allow other countries like Poland to import the German-made tanks from their stocks. Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesperson, stated that the deployment of Western tanks would have “unambiguously negative consequences.”
In an attempt to reach an agreement, defense leaders from countries with Leopard 2 tanks met up with Germans at the Ramstein Air Base conference on Friday.
Berlin said that it would not stand in the way of other countries sending the Leopard 2 tanks from Germany to Kyiv on Sunday. Germany must agree to allow the tanks to Ukraine to be delivered, as Ukraine is not a NATO member.
German and U.S. officials have mixed signals about whether U.S. and German decision are connected and whether Berlin hesitated to send tanks unless Abrams was sent by the U.S.
Mariusz Blaszczak, Polish Defense Minister, stated Tuesday that Poland had officially asked Germany for permission to transfer its Leopard 2 battle tank fleet to Ukraine.
German officials confirmed that they received the application to the dpa news agency and stated that it would be evaluated “with due urgency”. Annalena Baerbock, the German Foreign Minister Annalena Bock, said Sunday that Berlin would not seek to prevent Poland from providing high-tech armor for Kyiv.
German officials refused to comment on reports about a tank deal. According to Der Spiegel, the news magazine reported Tuesday that Germany would supply Ukraine at least one Leopard 2 tank company from its army stock. Scholz will address parliament Wednesday, and answer questions from lawmakers. Many of these lawmakers have been pushing the government to provide tanks to Ukraine with allies.
Congress members have been pushing for the U.S. increase in aid to Ukraine.
Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell stated Tuesday that it was time for the Biden Administration and its allies to send more military assistance to Ukraine and that the U.S. should provide more tanks to aid Ukraine in “winning this war.”
“It is past time for the Biden administration to be serious about helping Ukraine complete the job and retake their land.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported the likely plans to send Abrams.