The U.S. will for the first time send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to help Ukraine defend against the ongoing Russian invasion, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday.
That number of tanks is the equivalent of a Ukrainian tank battalion, he said.
“Ukrainians are fighting an age-old battle against aggression and domination,” Biden said. “It’s a battle Americans have fought proudly time and again, and it’s a battle we’re going to make sure the Ukrainians are well-equipped to fight, as well.”
The Abrams tanks will be newly procured, not given away from U.S. stockpiles, a senior administration official said during a press briefing Wednesday. The tanks are expected to be delivered in “months as opposed to weeks,” the official said.
Some U.S. officials previously described the tanks as unsuited to the war, citing extensive maintenance and fuel requirements. Senior administration officials said Wednesday that Ukrainian troops would undergo “a very careful training program” on the tanks somewhere outside Ukraine.
The U.S. is also sending eight M88 recovery vehicles to ensure “the Ukrainians will be able to keep these Abrams up and running,” a senior administration official said.
The announcement came as Germany confirmed it’s sending its own Leopard 2 tanks into the war following “months of debate” over the latest escalation in weaponry, as reported by CNN.
Germany had reportedly conditioned its Leopard tanks on the U.S. sending the Abrams. At the press conference, Biden said “Germany didn’t force me to change my mind,” adding that “Germany has really stepped up, and [Chancellor Olaf Scholz] has been a strong, strong voice for unity and a close friend.”
The United Kingdom has announced a plan to send Ukraine 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks, the New York Times reported, and France is planning to send some of its AMX 10-RC light combat tanks, Reuters reported.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.