US will send 31 Abrams tanks to Kiev
The US will send 31 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine, President Joe Biden announced in a hastily scheduled speech on Wednesday, after Germany said it would start delivering its Leopard MBTs to the government in Kiev.
The speech was announced on Wednesday morning as a last-minute addition to the White House schedule. While no preview was provided to the media, it was widely expected to contain confirmation that Washington would commit some of its M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.
Earlier in the day, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin would send 14 of its own Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine and allow other EU and NATO countries to do the same with theirs. “We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Scholz said in a statement.
Poland had pushed for sending the Leopards to Kiev as part of an “international coalition,” but the move required Berlin’s approval. German officials signaled last week that the US would need to commit to sending the Abrams tanks first.
The US military has reportedly been reluctant, considering the gas-guzzling, turbine-powered Abrams too difficult to operate and maintain and too heavy for Ukrainian infrastructure.
Russia’s ambassador to Washington has described the rumored delivery of US tanks to Kiev as “another blatant provocation” by the “real aggressor” in the conflict, adding that they will “no doubt be destroyed” along with other hardware that NATO has poured into Ukraine over the past year.