US President Biden introduced Wednesday that he plans to ship 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the extremely refined however maintenance-heavy automobiles.
Biden stated in White Home remarks that this US assist is about serving to Ukraine “defend its sovereignty” and that sending tanks doesn’t imply it’s an “offensive menace.”
Biden’s announcement got here after Germany confirmed earlier Wednesday that it could ship 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine from its personal inventory. The 2 nations had gave the impression to be in standoff as German officers indicated Berlin would solely ship their Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the US despatched the M-1 Abrams tanks.
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Why that is important: NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg informed CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour” Wednesday that the tanks “will considerably strengthen” Kyiv’s fight capabilities. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has persistently requested Western allies for contemporary tanks as his nation prepares for an anticipated main Russian counteroffensive within the spring.
With each the US and Germany pledging to ship tanks to Ukraine, different nations, particularly these with the German-made tanks, have additionally introduced contributions to the entrance strains. CNN can’t affirm the entire variety of Leopard 2 tanks to be delivered, however pledges made by a number of nations thus far imply the Ukrainian navy is in line to obtain dozens of the tanks. Germany’s fundamental governing occasion stated on Wednesday that Ukraine’s Western allies will ship the nation a complete of round 80 Leopard 2 fundamental battle tanks.
Why ship tanks now: Sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will present Kyiv’s forces with a contemporary and highly effective navy automobile forward of a possible Russian spring offensive. It would additionally come as a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen a rising marketing campaign to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech combating techniques as Russia’s floor battle nears the one-year mark.
Talking forward of Biden’s announcement, senior US officers framed the choice as an funding in Ukraine’s “long term capabilities,” a sign the administration sees the now 11-month-long battle extending nicely into the long run. Ukraine hopes the brand new tanks can assist it retake territory seized by Russia, together with within the Donbas. That would additionally embody Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.
Attainable challenges: The Abrams tanks will take months to reach, senior Biden administration officers stated, and would require in depth coaching for Ukrainian troops on find out how to function and repair them. The US should navigate sophisticated provide chains for the elements required for the tanks.
The procurement course of will take months, the officers stated, although Germany’s Leopards will arrive within the nearer time period. Within the meantime, the US will start a “complete coaching program” for the Ukrainians on the Abrams, which would require important upkeep as soon as they’re deployed. The coaching will happen outdoors Ukraine.
The Portuguese international minister stated Wednesday it is going to take two to a few months earlier than Western-donated Leopard 2 tanks are totally operational in Ukraine.
Watch CNN’s Jim Sciutto break down the newest on the tanks:
CNN’s Kevin Liptak, Stephanie Halasz, Sophie Tanno and Sugam Pokharel contributed reporting to this submit.