In A Major U-Turn, US To Send M1 Abrams Tanks To Ukraine For ‘Defence’; Germany To Follow Suit With Leopard Tanks
The decision to send M1 Abrams tanks comes after months of intense pressure on Washington, from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the leaders of the entire NATO countries.
In a sudden policy reversal, United States (US) President Joe Biden on 25 January, the transfer of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Along with 31 Abrams tanks, which will constitute a Ukrainian battalion, the United States will also send 8 M88 Armoured Recovery Vehicles to Ukraine.
President Biden, in the announcement, stated that, "these tanks are needed because Ukrainian forces are working to defend the territory they hold and will be better prepared for additional counter-offences”.
“The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world. And, they're also extremely complex to operate and maintain. Along with the tanks, the United States will be giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively repair and maintain these tanks on the battlefield”, Biden added.
Biden in a message to Russia further said, "This is about helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia".
The announcement of the transfer of Abrams tanks will "do only one very important thing — they motivate our soldiers to fight for their own values because they show that the whole world is with you", Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said.
The decision to send M1 Abrams tanks comes after months of intense pressure on Washington, from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the leaders of the entire North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) countries.
The United States government and its European allies, including Germany, had been reluctant to send tanks to Ukraine.
Just yesterday (25 January), John Kirby, the National Security Council Co-ordinator for Strategic Communications said, “We have talked about the fact that the Abrams are an incredibly capable system, but it’s a very expensive system to operate and to maintain”.
“It has a jet engine — it doesn’t mean that the Ukrainians can’t learn it, it just means that we have to factor all that stuff in with any system that we’re going to potentially provide to them,” he further said.
The decision to send Abrams to Ukraine can open the floodgates to various European nations sending tanks to Ukraine. Poland has already pledged a company of German-origin Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
In the past, the Germans, reluctant to supply Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine, had said that they will send armour to the battlefield only if the Americans transferred Abrams to Ukraine.
The country, which has the largest economy in Europe, has now the transfer of 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Kyiv.
"This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated and concerted manner internationally," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin.
Germany has also approved the re-export of Leopard-2 tanks from partner countries to Ukraine, according to a statement issued Wednesday (25 January).
There are about 2,000 Leopard-2 tanks in Europe and German approval will allow the transfer of a significant number of these tanks to Ukraine, strengthening Ukrain's defencive and offensive capabilities.
On the other hand, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, journalists Wednesday (25 January) that sending Western tanks to Ukraine was a "failed plan" and an "overestimation of the potential that this will add to the Ukrainian army".
"These tanks will burn like all the rest," he declared.
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