US to Provide 31 Abrams Tanks to Ukraine to Repel Russian Invasion

Last Update: January 26, 2023, 07:25 AM IST

Washington, United States

US soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division load M1A1 Abrams tanks onto flatbed trucks for transport from Kuwait City to border posts along the Iraqi border on February 24.  (AFP)

US soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division load M1A1 Abrams tanks onto flatbed trucks for transport from Kuwait City to border posts along the Iraqi border on February 24. (AFP)

Washington’s pledge came hours after Germany approved the long-sought delivery of its Leopard 2s to Ukraine.

The United States announced on Wednesday that it would provide 31 Abrams tanks to help ukraine to repel Russia’s invasion, mirroring a similar move by Germany and fulfilling a long-standing request from Kyiv.

Ukraine – which had requested heavy Western tanks for months – welcomed the dual announcements, with President Volodymyr Zelensky urging they be delivered quickly.

The provision of the M1 Abrams is intended to “help defend Ukraine and defend Ukrainian lands. It is not an offensive threat to Russia,” US President Joe Biden said in his remarks announcing the move, which the Defense Represents a significant reversal after officials repeatedly described the tanks as unfit for the task at hand.

Washington’s pledge came hours after Germany – which reportedly demanded a US commitment of the tanks before agreeing to send its own – approved the long-sought delivery of its Leopard 2s to Ukraine.

Unlike German tanks, however, the Abrams would be purchased from Ukraine aid funds rather than drawn directly from existing stocks, meaning they would not arrive on the battlefield for months.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said that according to the Pentagon, there are no additional Abrams tanks in the US inventory.

Other possible options may include buying them new or getting them from another country. A US official told AFP it “has not yet been determined” how the tanks would be obtained.

They are part of a $400 million aid package that also includes ammunition, support vehicles and equipment, and funding for training and maintenance.

This brings total US military aid to Ukraine to more than $27.1 billion since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

“The United States will now begin working to establish a comprehensive training program,” a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

The official said the US Department of Defense is also “working through mechanisms to deliver the fuel and equipment Ukraine will need to operate and maintain the Abrams.”

‘closely coordinated’ support

Defense officials have raised various doubts in recent days about the suitability of the Abrams, which was first fielded by the US military in the 1980s for use in Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the tank is “a very capable battlefield platform. It’s also a very complex capability.”

“Whatever we’re providing to Ukraine, we want to make sure they have the ability to maintain it, maintain it, train it,” he said.

The Abrams is armed with a 120 mm main gun and .50 caliber and 7.62 mm machine guns, and is powered by a 1,500 horsepower turbine engine.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, said last week that the United States was not “yet” on providing the tanks to Ukraine, citing their fuel economy and describing them as “expensive” and “difficult to train”.

Asked on Wednesday whether Germany has requested that Washington provide it with the Abrams as a precondition for giving it the Leopard, a senior official said Berlin will have to speak on the timing of its decision, but the United States has “have closely coordinated our security assistance with allies and partners” throughout the conflict. ,

The provisions of the tanks announced by the United States and Germany follow recent pledges of dozens of other armored vehicles that will aid offensive operations by Kyiv.

Washington has pledged 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 109 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. Germany pledged about 40 of its Marder vehicles, Britain said it would provide 14 Challenger 2 heavy tanks, and France AMX-10 RC light tanks.

“You’re going to see hundreds of armored vehicles – exceptionally capable vehicles – and tanks arriving in Ukraine. And importantly, they will arrive with trained crews,” said a senior US official.

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(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed)