In a major reversal, the Biden Administration plans to send advanced M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine according to U.S. officials. The announcement is set to take place as soon as Wednesday and may spark numerous other countries to also supply tanks to Ukraine. Germany has stressed that supplying tanks to Ukraine must be a joint operation and not solely done by European nations.
The AP reports that the U.S. plans to supply around 30 Abrams tanks in the first wave and it would be funded under an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative package. The package provides longer-range funding for weapons and equipment to be purchased from commercial vendors. The AP states, “The U.S. announcement is expected in coordination with an announcement by Germany that it will approve Poland’s request to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to one official.”
By not stating an exact time frame of when the tanks will arrive, the U.S. will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s demand for an American commitment without having to send the tanks immediately.
Over the weekend, Sens. Lindsey Graham met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to discuss the matter of sending tanks. Graham released a statement saying:
“The debacle regarding sending tanks to Ukraine must end. It is impossible for Ukraine to expel Russia without tanks. I am hoping Germany and the United States will both send tanks ASAP – opening up other countries’ desire to help Ukraine. The tanks are outcome determinative in expelling Russia from Ukraine.”
The United States has been hesitant to provide its own M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine due to the complex logistics of delivery and the unfamiliarity Ukrainian forces have with the tank. Ukrainian troops would need far less training to operate the Leopards than the Abrams and the Leopards are already located in allies that are close to Ukraine.