US supplies 31 Abram tanks to Ukraine in support of fight against Russia

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The US commitment came hours after Germany – which reportedly sought a US deployment of tanks.

Washington:

The United States announced on Wednesday it will provide 31 Abrams tanks to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion, mirroring a similar move by Germany despite dire warnings from Moscow.

The twin announcements will come as a great relief to Kiev, which has been advocating for heavy Western tanks to support its struggle for months.

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

However, unlike the German tanks, the M1 Abrams will be procured with support from Ukraine rather than directly from existing US stocks, meaning they will not arrive on the battlefield for months.

President Joe Biden, who spoke with key European allies on Wednesday about supporting the Kiev fight, was about to deliver a speech from the White House about US tank deliveries.

“The United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, equivalent to one Ukrainian tank battalion,” a senior government official told reporters of the move — a major reversal after US defense officials repeatedly labeled the Abrams unfit. for the task at hand.

“Tanks are complex systems that require a significant amount of training and maintenance,” the official said, and the United States “will now begin work on establishing a comprehensive training program.”

The US Department of Defense “is also working on the mechanisms to provide the fuel and equipment Ukraine needs to operate and maintain the Abrams,” the official added.

Defense officials have expressed several doubts in recent days about the suitability of the Abrams, first used by the US military in 1980, for use in Ukraine.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said Tuesday that the tank “is a very capable battlefield platform. It is also a very complex capability.”

“Like everything we supply to Ukraine, we want to make sure they have the ability to preserve it, support it and train on it,” he said.

– ‘Closely coordinated’ aid –

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

Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl said last week that the United States was “not there yet” in supplying the tanks to Ukraine, citing their fuel consumption and describing them as “expensive” and “difficult to train on”.

Asked Wednesday whether Germany had asked Washington to provide Abrams as a condition of giving Leopards, a senior official said Berlin should discuss the timing of its announcement, but that the United States has “closely coordinated our security assistance with allies and associates”. throughout the conflict.”

The delivery of tanks announced by the United States and Germany follows recent commitments by dozens of other armored vehicles that will support offensive operations through Kiev.

Washington has pledged 90 Stryker armored personnel carriers and 109 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, while 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 will see hundreds of armored vehicles – exceptionally capable vehicles – and tanks arriving in Ukraine. And more importantly, they will arrive with trained crews,” a senior US official said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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