U.S. President Joe Biden could officially start the process of sending U.S. main battle tanks to Ukraine, for use in the conflict with Russia, as early as Wednesday, unnamed U.S. officials told Reuters.
The Biden administration has reversed its decision not to supply Kyiv with M1 Abrams tanks under pressure from the Zelensky government, said two sources, who spoke to the agency on Tuesday.
The lethal aid will likely be funded under the so-called Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which allows the US government to buy weapons directly from the defense industry, while leaving military stockpiles untouched. existing Americans.
According to one of the officials, Washington could buy dozens of American-made tanks from its allies, refurbish them and then send them to Ukraine. However, he warned it could be a long process, taking months or years.
Several US news outlets have corroborated reports that the White House is close to giving the go-ahead for deliveries of M1 Abrams, with Politico saying around 30 tanks are being considered for Ukraine.
The alleged softening of the US stance follows reports in German media on Tuesday that Chancellor Olaf Scholz has finally agreed to supply kyiv with enough Leopard 2s to equip a tank company, which usually consists of 16 vehicles. . German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also said on Sunday that if other countries, such as Poland, formally request permission to supply Leopard 2s to the Zelensky government, Berlin “would not stand in the way.”
Germany had previously been reluctant to send its tanks to Ukraine despite pressure from allies, insisting that Washington do the same.
However, publicly, the United States continues to insist that the M1 Abrams will not be the best solution for the conflict in Ukraine, because the 63-ton tanks are difficult to maintain, run on kerosene and require long training. to work. “The M1 is a complex weapon system that is difficult to maintain…it was true yesterday, it is true today and it will be true in the future,” Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder reiterated on Tuesday.
American tanks will be “destroyed” in Ukraine – ambassador
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said that – if they happened – US tank deliveries to kyiv would be “Another blatant provocation” against Moscow by Washington, which is “the real aggressor” in the conflict in Ukraine. “American tanks will undoubtedly be destroyed, along with all other samples of NATO military equipment” which were handed over to the Ukrainian military, the envoy warned, echoing an earlier statement from the Kremlin.
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