WASHINGTON – The United States will supply 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, contrary to the Pentagon’s professed opposition late last week, senior White House officials announced on Wednesday.
One officer stated, “I’m proud to say that Abrams tanks are the best in the world.” This is a significant new capacity that Ukraine will acquire to bolster its long-term defence.
Ukraine has been requesting armored tanks from its Western backers for months in anticipation of a renewed Russian offensive this spring. The 24th of February will celebrate one year since Moscow’s invasion, during which both sides are claimed to have suffered more than 100,000 casualties.
The announcement comes six days after Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh stated, “it makes no sense to provide [M1s] to the Ukrainians at this time” due to the M1’s jet-fueled gas-turbine engine.
In addition to the M1s, the United States will deploy eight AM-88 recovery vehicles, which can help tow out-of-gas tanks.
The announcement comes six days after Pentagon spokesman Sabrina Singh stated that providing M1s to the Ukrainians at this time “makes no sense.”
“These are the vehicles that accompany the Abrams to provide coverage after operations, ensuring that the Ukrainians will be able to maintain these Abrams,” the official explained.
The delivery of the M1s will take up to a year, according to White House sources, because they will not come from existing Pentagon supplies. As a result, it will take longer for the United States to acquire, package, and ship the M1s to Europe using money from the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which have been approved by Congress.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on the same day that his country will give Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks – enough for one company – and grant other nations’ requests to do the same after weeks of uncertainty.
When Germany’s tanks will be deployed to Ukraine is unknown, but the Pentagon has stated that Leopard tanks are a better fit for Ukraine’s conflict since, unlike M1s, their diesel-powered engines are easier to transport downfield.
In the end, Germany and its partners intend to furnish Ukraine with 88 Leopards, which will equip two battalions. Once delivered, the 31 American tanks will form an additional battalion, according to officials.
The coordinated timing is striking, as German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius disputed several allegations last week that Berlin was waiting for the United States to provide M1 tanks before adding Leopard tanks.
The same day, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin backed down on Pistorius’s comments, stating that the Pentagon only considered supplying weapons as a means to “provide capability” and not as diplomatic ploys.
The delivery of the M1s will take up to a year, according to White House sources, because they will not come from existing Pentagon supplies.
“We do not use capabilities as a concept for anything other than providing credible combat capability,” he explained. This will be the focus of our efforts in the future.
However, according to White House officials, Wednesday’s decision “follows continued diplomatic conversations we’ve had over the past few weeks,” including conversations between Austin and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley and “their German and European counterparts.”
The official stated, “President Biden will speak with Chancellor Scholz multiple times this month to coordinate security assistance to Ukraine.”
Another insider stated that Scholz’s decision was the result of “excellent diplomatic discussions.”
“We are certainly appreciative of today’s announcement by Chancellor Scholz,” the official stated. Looking back over the past year, the enormous transformation in Germany’s security policy is truly astonishing.
Biden spoke with Scholz, French President Emanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni before to a midday address at the White House, according to the White House.