The Biden administration is seriously weighing sending a “significant number” of heavy duty M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing U.S. officials.
An announcement to deliver the 60-ton main battle tanks could be announced as soon as this week, part of a larger diplomatic push to convince Germany to allow a tranche of its own Leopard tanks, the officials told the WSJ. The announcement comes after German leader Olaf Scholz said Wednesday that Germany would not green light deliveries of Leopards from its own stocks or those of European allies unless the U.S. also agrees to supply American tanks, accordingto The Wall Street Journal.
The report came hours after Berlin acknowledged Poland’s formal request to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, according to Reuters. Other European governments have pledged to deliver German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but doing so requires prior approval from Berlin, the WSJ reported.
Kyiv is preparing to mount a counteroffensive in the spring, while Russia is preparing to mobilize and ramp up the intensity of invasion efforts as the chill of winter eases, U.S. officials said Monday.
President Joe Biden agreed to explore providing Abrams tanks to Ukraine during a Jan. 17 call with Scholz despite the Pentagon’s opposition to the move, citing logistical concerns and the system’s intensive fuel requirements, according to the WSJ. A final agreement follows more than a week of protracted discussions between the two governments and lobbying from Democratic members of Congress, including Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, who favor supplying tanks to Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said no decision had been made regarding sending Western tanks to Ukraine at a meeting of dozens of defense ministers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Friday, according to CNN.
“We’re really focused on — is making sure that Ukraine has the capability that it needs to be successful right now. So we have a window of opportunity here between now and the spring … whenever they commence their operation, their counteroffensive,” Austin said, according to CNN.
“And that’s not a long time. We have to pull together the right capabilities,” he added.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked the West to supply tanks for months but been met with widespread resistance from Western officials, particularly Germany, over concerns regarding the logistics of training Ukrainian troops on complicated Western equipment and provoking Russia.
“This is something that sends a clear signal to all our partners — there is no rational reason why Ukraine has not yet been supplied with western tanks,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said earlier in January, according to Reuters.
The United Kingdom said it would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks on Jan. 16, according to Voice of America, a decision the U.S. supports, an official told Politico at the time. The Biden administration has also helped facilitate the transfer of Soviet-made tanks from the Czech Republic to Ukraine
The White House did not comment to the WSJ.
DOD did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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