NEW YORK – According to a U.S. official, the Biden administration intends to send more than 30 of its frontline combat tanks to Ukraine. This step is meant to break Germany’s resistance to sending its main battle tank to support Ukrainian forces fighting Russia.
Modern, capable tanks are thought to be crucial to Ukraine’s ability to withstand an anticipated springtime Russian attack and to enable the Ukrainians to reclaim areas of their country taken during the invasion authorized by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russian and Soviet-era tanks are used by the Ukrainians. They would have access to superior firepower, mobility, and armored vehicles thanks to Western tanks.
German news agencies had reported on Tuesday that Mr. Scholz had chosen to send the tanks, so there was a lot of anticipation for a statement from them. A lot of stress was placed on the chancellor’s upcoming Wednesday speech before Parliament.
Germany stated early on Wednesday that it would give the Ukrainian military 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks as a start. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a Cabinet meeting in Berlin that “this decision follows our well-known position of assisting Ukraine to the best of our ability.” He added that the decision had been negotiated with international allies.
The Pentagon has opposed sending the tanks because they need constant maintenance and jet fuel for their engines, among other reasons. Diesel fuel is simpler to obtain and is used by the German Leopard tank, which is used by several European allies.
Germany, meanwhile, has demanded that the Pentagon commit its tanks before sending its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and permitting other nations that employ the tank to do the same. Ukraine put pressure on Germany for months, hoping that the Leopard 2 and M1 Abrams tanks would be a game-changer for its troops on the battlefield before an anticipated new Russian offensive this spring.
Poland’s defense minister announced on Tuesday that his nation had formally asked Germany for permission to deploy Ukraine Leopard tanks from its stock, and other nations had expressed an interest in doing the same if Germany consented.
At a news conference in Kyiv, the president of Finland, Sauli Niinisto, informed the media that he had discussed the delivery of Western tanks to Ukraine with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Why the Biden administration changed course was not immediately apparent. The Abrams tanks would be difficult for Ukrainian forces to maintain, in part because they run on jet fuel, a Pentagon official told reporters as late as Monday.
However, the government may benefit politically as a result of the administration’s choice to send a relatively limited number of tanks and the anticipated delivery delay, outweighing any worries about the war’s potential for escalation.
Today is anticipated to be the day that the White House makes its official announcement regarding the tanks.
The transfer of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will also involve other European allies, according to Scholz. How many? He omitted to say. Germany will provide training as well as logistics, ammo, and system upkeep as part of its support package, he said.
Since Russia invaded the country in February 2022, the Biden administration has already given Ukraine $27 billion in military assistance. The weapons sent have become more deadly and highly developed. The tanks and armored personnel carriers currently being provided to Ukraine are the identical ones used by the front-line soldiers of the U.S. Army.
According to the individual, who was not authorized to discuss the strategy publicly, the current Pentagon plan is to send 31 M-1 Abrams tanks and eight vehicles to rescue those damaged in combat. The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the decision by the Biden administration to send the tanks.
Officials from the Pentagon declined to confirm the choice on Tuesday afternoon.
The Pentagon’s press secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters on Tuesday that he had no announcements to give at this time. He characterized the Abrams tank as being both exceedingly sophisticated and very capable.
The U.S.-led coalition assisting Ukraine last week was unable to come to terms with Germany about the provision of its Leopard tanks. The Pentagon also unveiled its most recent military aid package this week, including $2.5 billion worth of armored personnel carriers, ammunition, and other supplies.
The Abrams are swift, deadly, and well-armored. The Abrams, which weighs roughly 70 tons, is equipped with a.50-caliber machine gun and a 120 mm cannon. The Abrams tank was created during the Cold War, and the Army received its first shipment in 1980. During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, they were exposed to battle for the first time in 1991.
According to a report by the Congressional Research Service, it “was devastating because crews reported that its 120-mm gun was precise and that its ammo was deadly to all types of Iraqi armor. The gun’s high level of precision, according to army experts, is due to its excellent sights, high level of tank readiness, and personnel training. The Abrams fared well on the battlefield as well.”
According to an Army report quoted by the research service, Abrams tank operators claimed to have taken “Iraqi T-72 (tank) direct frontal strikes with just little damage. In actuality, no Abrams tanks were destroyed by the enemy during the Persian Gulf War.”