The Biden administration administration’s plan to send Ukraine a battalion of lethal Abrams tanks will be hampered by the production timeframe and the Pentagon’s insistence that it does not have any in surplus, the Defense Department revealed Thursday.
Unlike some of the high-tech weaponry the U.S. has been shipping to Ukraine as part of a multi-billion effort to deter Russia’s invasion, the U.S. military does not ‘have these tanks available in excess in our U.S. stocks,’ deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh’ told reporters.
The means it could take months before the tanks, which President Biden called the most capable in the world, reach their destination. It is anyone’s guess what the state of play in the war will be at that point. The one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal invasion is approaching.
‘These things are going to require training maintenance, sustainment, that is going to take a very long time to also train in Ukrainians on,’ Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh Singh told reporters Thursday, a day after Biden announced the transfer.
‘These things are going to require training maintenance, sustainment,’ Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters. Since the military says it doesn’t have any excess Abrams tanks, it will take about a year before they make it to Ukraine. President Biden announced the transfer Wednesday
‘We took that into account. That’s why we are using the USAI capability in order to procure these tanks for the Ukrainians,’ she said, referencing the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
Officials said it could take up to a year before the the Ukrainian military is using Abrams tanks on the ground to try to retake territory captured by the Russians – with fears of a new Russian offensive this spring.
The government will buy the tanks new from defense contractor General Dynamics, which makes the tanks in its Ohio plant. As with other sophisticated military hardware, the government will have to make sure it is not providing certain ultra-sophisticated components to keep them out of enemy hands. The White House has said there are no indications U.S. equipment provided to Ukraine has made its way to Russia or adversaries.
The U.S. will be providing its more advanced M1A2 Abrams model.
The tank runs on a gas turbine engine, which provides speed and efficiency. But it also requires training, and the U.S. plans to train Ukrainians in a location yet to be determined on how to operate them.
Russian launched what Ukraine called a ‘massive’ volley of missile strikes on Thursday, the day after the announcement.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky renewed his call for even more weaponry, including fighter jets.
‘We have to unlock the supply of long-range missiles to Ukraine, it is important for us to expand our cooperation in artillery, we have to achieve the supply of aircraft to Ukraine. And this is a dream. And this is a task,’ he said.
Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. is sending an entire battalion of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, yielding to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s push for heavy armor to counter Russia’s nearly yearlong invasion.
The U.S. will supply highly lethal M1A2 Abrams tanks, the more sophisticated version, to Ukraine. But it could take up to a year for them to get there
The announcement followed a complicated diplomatic dance that has seen Germany announce its own decision to send 14 tanks to Kiev, with more on the way.
The US is also providing 500 armored vehicles as part of the package.
Biden called the M1 Abrams tanks ‘the most capable tanks in the world’ and said they would ‘enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory to achieve its strategic objectives.’
He added that the Ukrainian military would use the armor to ‘liberate their land.’
President Joe Biden announced the US would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. He called them ‘The most capable tanks in the world’
The president also cautioned that the move was ‘going to take time’ – a reference to the complex training involved with the weapons system, which he described as ‘extremely complex to operate and maintain.’
And he thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for the German government’s contribution.
‘Germany has really stepped up,’ he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has asked repeatedly for tanks as the next phase of the war in looms, but U.S. President Joe Biden has adopted a cautious approach
Biden responded to a question about whether Germany forced him to change his mind on sending the tanks.
‘Germany didn’t force me to change my mind. We wanted to make sure we were all together. That’s what we were going to do all along, and that’s what we’re doing right now,’ the president said.
After the president spoke, security spokesman Adm. John Kirby pushed back on claims the U.S. had done a turnaround to accommodate Germany. ‘Tanks were never off the table,’ Kirby said. He said it would take months to get the tanks to Ukraine, since the U.S. doesn’t currently have any in excess stock that aren’t being used. He said training requirements wouldn’t slow the process, at least not by much.
‘Today we’ll be announcing that the United States will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which is the equivalent of one Ukrainian tank battalion,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a call Wednesday.
The Pentagon is also providing eight M88 recovery vehicles, to help keep the Abrams tanks ‘up and running,’ according to a senior administration official.
The tanks come as the US is stepping up its ‘combined forces’ training for Ukrainian forces outside of Ukrainian territory – allowing them to better integrate air, ground, and armored forces in a more sophisticated form of warfare.
The Biden administration is sending Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine
Biden called the Abrams tanks ‘the most capable tanks in the world.’ Here US Army Sgt. 1st Class Corey Troxell, fires blank rounds through a .50 caliber machine gun mounted to an M1A2 Abrams tank during a simulated battle drill
Brigadier General Pat Ryer, the press secretary for the Pentagon, told CNN when asked if fighter jets will be made available to Zelensky, he said that nothing is off the table.
‘We’re going to continue to adapt, to ensure that Ukraine has the support they need to be successful, not only in defending their territory, but also taking back their sovereign territory.’
The latest lethal aid package ‘enables them … to retake territory,’ said the senior administration official. The moves come despite the Kremlin blasting it as an ‘extremely dangerous’ decision and a ‘blatant provocation’ one year after it invaded its neighbor.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that his country was sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine
Tanks for these: This combination of file photographs created on January 25, 2023, shows (TOP L/BOTTOM R): A British Challenger tank, a French Leclerc tank, a Polish German Leopard tank, and a US Abrams tank
The president spoke with President Macron of France, Chancellor Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Meloni of Italy, and Prime Minister Sunak of the United Kingdom ‘as part of our close coordination on support for Ukraine,’ according to the White House.
‘It is the most capable tank in the world, but it’s also the most sophisticated,’ said an administration official, noting the training and supply chain issues that come with it.
‘That will significantly strengthen their combat capabilities and demonstrates also the unity and resolve of NATO allies and partners in providing support to Ukraine,’ NATO Secretary Gen. Jens Stoltenberg said of Germany’s decision, speaking to CNN Wednesday, also stressing the ability to improve Ukraine’s ability to retake territory.
The US and allies are also providing anti-tank weapons and ammunition. A Ukrainian service member fires a RPG-7 anti-tank grenade launcher in Zaporizhzhia Region, Ukraine, January 23, 2023
Germany announced that it will send German-built Leopard 2 battle tanks, with an initial company of 14 vehicles. The aim would be to ultimately provide two battalions worth, which would amount to 80 to 100. The Leopards are widely used in western militaries, and other countries have been seeking Germany’s authorization to send their own.
The British government announced this month it would send its own squadron of 14 Challenger 2 battle tanks, while the Polish government has been girding to send 14 of its Leopard 2s, after seeking Germany’s approval. Berlin gave the green light on Wednesday.
Last week, the UK said it would send Challenger 2 tanks (pictured above) to Ukraine
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday called the moves by the US and Germany ‘long overdue.’
‘Now that Berlin is taking a step, I hope that other European countries with tanks in their inventory will move expeditiously to send them to Ukraine,’ he said on the Senate floor.
Last week, the U.K. announced it was sending Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, but that did not spur the U.S. or Germany to immediately follow suit.
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