The United States is joining its allies in sending tanks to Ukraine so that the country can resist Russian invaders even better, President Joe Biden said Wednesday.
The Biden administration will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks – the equivalent of a Ukrainian battalion – to Ukrainian forces, while Germany and other European states will ship German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Britain also plans to supply Kyiv with its own Challenger 2 tanks. Together, these deliveries represent a turning point in Western support for Ukraine – and a sign of confidence in the Ukrainians’ ability to retake territory from Russian troops who invaded their country 11 months ago.
Ukraine says it needs 300 tanks to support its war effort, taking advantage of Russian weakness before Moscow can re-equip its forces. The tanks, especially the Abrams models, are advanced, so it will probably take months for them to arrive and for Ukrainian troops to learn how to deploy them.
“We are also giving Ukraine the parts and equipment needed to effectively support these tanks on the battlefield,” Biden said in remarks Wednesday.
In recent weeks, Germany has balked at approving tank transfers for Ukraine, including from allies fielding German equipment that needs permission from Berlin to export it, citing fear of an escalation of the conflict. But earlier on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged he had heeded international criticism and the argument that without strong support for Ukraine now, an even worse escalation from Russia would be inevitable. . Scholz said Germany would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks.
Some U.S. officials balked at sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine, but colleagues who argued the pledge was key to getting Germany moving won the internal Biden administration debate.
Biden still insists the United States will not engage in fighting in Ukraine with its own troops.
The Huffington Gt