Washington changed its stance on tank deliveries due to “ground conditions”
The decision to send M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine is prompted by changes in warfare between Moscow and Kiev, as well as the changing situation on the ground, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.
“From the beginning of this war, now 11 months ago, we have developed the capabilities that we offer Ukraine, with the conditions on the ground,” Kirby told a news conference shortly after US President Joe Biden announced he would send 31 tanks to Kiev.
“What has changed… is the conditions on the ground and the kind of fighting the Russians are fighting right now, and the kind of fighting, more importantly, that we believe the Ukrainians will have to be capable of in the coming weeks and months. ahead, well into 2023,” Kirby continued, apparently referring to an expected offensive by Ukrainian troops.
The tanks themselves will not be transferred to Ukraine immediately, he noted, adding that they will reach into the country “many months.” At the same time, training of Ukrainian crews to operate the 62-tonne behemoths will soon begin.
“[The tanks] will have some unique maintenance and operational requirements for the Ukrainians, so we want to make sure we train them. So that train will start very quickly, and then the tanks will follow.” Kirby said.
Abrams’ announcement came as Washington’s European allies agreed to supply Kiev’s forces with German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Berlin, long hesitant to supply the advanced armored vehicles to Ukraine, has finally agreed to allow third countries using the tanks to re-export them to Ukraine, and has also pledged to take 14 Leopards from its domestic stocks. to deliver.
The new supplies come on top of the continued lavish military aid poured into Ukraine by the collective West during the nearly year-long conflict. According to Biden’s latest statements, the US and its allies have so far supplied Ukraine with more than 3,000 armored vehicles and more than 8,000 artillery pieces. However, the official reading of Biden’s speech cut that last figure to 800.
Moscow has repeatedly urged the West to stop “pump” Ukraine with arms, warning that the continued aid would not change the final outcome of the conflict, but would only prolong hostilities and inflict more suffering on ordinary Ukrainians.
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