Wednesday, January 25, 2023

US likely to authorise Abrams tanks for Ukraine in reversal

In reversal, US poised to approve Abrams tanks for Ukraine

 WASHINGTON: According to US officials on Tuesday, the international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians is beginning to erode, and the Biden administration is poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which would be a reversal. As soon as Wednesday, it could be decided to send a little more than 30 tanks, but it could take months for them to arrive.

According to US officials, specifics are still being worked out. According to a source, the tanks would be purchased as part of a forthcoming package called the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. This package provides funding for longer-term purchases of weapons and equipment from commercial vendors.

According to one official, the US announcement is anticipated to coincide with Germany's announcement that it will grant Poland's request to transfer German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Due to the fact that the decision has not yet been made public, the officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The administration is able to satisfy German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's demand for an American commitment without having to send the tanks immediately by agreeing to send the Abrams at a time that has not yet been specified as part of the assistance initiative.

A separate program that uses stocks held by the Pentagon to expedite the delivery of weapons to Ukraine has provided a significant amount of the aid that has been delivered thus far in the 11-month conflict. However, even under that plan, it would take several months to deliver tanks to Ukraine and train Ukrainian troops on them. On Tuesday, it was unclear when the US would begin instructing Ukrainian troops on the Abrams and when they would likely reach the front lines.

The US has resisted providing Ukraine with its own M1 Abrams tanks up until this point, citing the high-tech vehicles' extensive and complicated maintenance requirements and logistical difficulties. Washington thinks that sending German Leopards would be more effective because many allies already have them and Ukrainian troops would need less training to fly the more difficult Abrams.

Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, recently stated to reporters that the Abrams is a complicated, costly, difficult-to-maintain piece of equipment that is also difficult to train on. "We should not be providing the Ukrainians systems they can’t repair, they can’t sustain, and they, over the long term, cannot afford, because it’s not helpful," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated.

According to a US official who is familiar with White House thinking, the administration's initial reluctance was caused by concerns regarding the tanks' maintenance and necessary training. The official went on to say that the administration thinks such plans are already in place, but that putting them into action might take some time.

Spokesman Brig Gen. Pat Ryder stated at the Pentagon that he had nothing to announce regarding any US decision regarding Abrams tanks. However, he stated that "we've provided the training and sustainment capabilities with that whenever we've provided Ukraine with a type of system."

The administration's reversal comes just a few days after a group of more than fifty senior defense officials from across Europe and beyond got together in Germany to talk about the needs of the Ukrainian war, and battle tanks were a big topic.

Germany had resisted increasing pressure to either supply its own tanks or make way for other nations, such as Poland, to send German-made tanks from their own stocks, despite urgent requests from Ukrainian leaders. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, stated that the deployment of Western tanks would result in "unambiguously negative" outcomes.

During the conference on Friday at Ramstein Air Base, defense officials from nations with Leopard 2 tanks met with German officials in an effort to reach an agreement.

Berlin made it clear on Sunday that it would not stand in the way of other nations delivering the Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv. Germany must consent before the tanks can be given to Ukraine, a NATO country.

Officials from both the United States and Germany have given conflicting indications regarding whether there is a connection between the decisions made by the United States and Germany and whether Berlin was reluctant to send its tanks unless the United States sent Abrams.

Tuesday, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said that Poland has officially asked Germany for permission to move its Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

The dpa news agency was informed by German officials that they had received the application and that it would be evaluated "with due urgency." Sunday, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock stated that Berlin would not attempt to prevent Poland from providing Kyiv with the cutting-edge armor.

The rumors of a tank deal were denied by German officials. Without citing a source, Der Spiegel reported on Tuesday that Germany will supply Ukraine with at least one company of Leopard 2 tanks from its own army's inventory. A company has fifteen tanks.

Wednesday, Scholz will address parliament and answer questions from lawmakers, many of whom have urged the government to provide Ukraine with tanks along with allies.

Additionally, lawmakers in Congress have been urging the United States to increase its aid to Ukraine.

On Tuesday, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell stated that the United States must provide additional tanks and weapons to assist Ukraine in "winning this war" and that "it's time, past time" for the Biden administration and its allies to send more military aid to Ukraine.

"It's time, it's past time, for the Biden administration and our allies to get serious about helping Ukraine finish the job and retake their country," the statement reads.

The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the likely plans to send the Abrams.

Catch Daily Highlights In Your Email

* indicates required

Post Top Ad