President Joe Biden stated on Wednesday that the US will send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to aid in its battle against Russia. The United States will also give the required resources and training to maintain and operate these tanks, he added.
Sending the tanks will “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives” because they are “the most capable tanks in the world,” Biden said.
“That’s what this is about — helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia, there is no offensive threat to Russia,” the president said. The news was first reported by Yahoo on Tuesday.
During a background call previewing Biden’s remarks, senior administration officials said the announcement is “very much a continuation of our effort to provide Ukraine with the capabilities that they need to continue to better defend themselves.”
“And it’s also in keeping with that representative of a long term, long-term commitment that we have to Ukraine’s defense needs,” a senior administration official said. Biden underlined in his speech announcing the decision that 31 M1 Abrams tanks are the equivalent of one Ukrainian tank battalion.
The US will also provide a training program to maintain and operate the tanks, as well as eight M88 recovery vehicles to go with the Abrams tanks, which will “provide recovery operations to make sure that the Ukrainians can keep these Abrams up and running,” according to a senior administration official.
According to a senior government source, the training will not take place in Ukraine. Biden claimed that the transfer of the tanks into the fields will “take time” that the U.S. will utilize to ensure “Ukrainians are fully prepared to integrate the Abram tanks into their defenses.
The declaration was “closely coordinated” with partners, according to the president, who praised German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for supplying German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and leading an attempt to organize a European deployment of two tank battalions to help the nation. Scholz’s announcement coincided with Biden’s statement.
Biden also thanked the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Italy, Canada, Slovakia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Finland for supplying “critical air defense systems to help secure Ukrainian skies and save innocent civilian lives.”
“As we approach the one-year mark with Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we remain united and determined as ever in our conviction and our cause,” he said. “These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of the Ukrainian forces.”
According to a senior source, the decision to send the tanks was decided following “continued diplomatic conversations” with European allies and partners, particularly Germany, over the previous several weeks.
“President Biden will be or has spoken with Chancellor Scholz several times this month to coordinate on security assistance to Ukraine, including the joint announcement that we made a couple of weeks ago on Patriot [missiles] and the provisions of other assistance,” the official said.
The declaration came after the president spoke with Scholz of Germany, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, to continue negotiations about assisting Ukraine. Sunak applauded the allies’ moves to announce significant combat tank commitments.