America sends Abrams tanks to Ukraine: Biden
US President Joe Biden confirmed that his country will send 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, highlighting cooperation with Europe and thanking German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for agreeing to send Leopard tanks to Kyiv.
Biden called the Abrams tanks “the most capable in the world” in a speech at the White House on Wednesday. He said the United States would provide Ukraine with spare parts and equipment, as well as training.
The President praised German Chancellor Olaf Schultz’s earlier announcement of the delivery of 14 Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
“Germany has really stepped up and the chancellor has been a strong voice for unity” among Ukraine’s allies, Biden said.
“The expectation on the part of Russia is that we are going to fall apart,” Biden said of American and European allies. “But we are united wholly, wholly, and inclusively.”
The United States was lukewarm at the idea of deploying the more difficult-to-maintain Abrams tanks but had to change tack in order to persuade Germany to send the more widely used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
However, the Abrams — among America’s most powerful tanks — won’t be heading to Ukraine any time soon.
Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said it would take months, not weeks, for Abrams to be delivered and described the move in terms of providing for Ukraine’s long-term defense.
Ukrainian military personnel will be trained to use the Abrams at a location yet to be determined. While the Abrams is a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, it is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical challenge to resupply because it runs on jet fuel.
The total cost of a single Abrams tank can vary, and can be over $10 million per tank when training and sustainability are included.
The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counteroffensive to try to drive Russia out of captured territory.
“There is no offensive threat to Russia,” Biden said.
Biden speaks with Schultz before the announcement
Biden and Schultz spoke in a phone conversation on Wednesday that also included French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.
Schulz’s spokesperson confirmed the call and it was mentioned during Biden’s announcement on Wednesday.
The five-way phone call focused on the security situation in Ukraine and continued support for the Ukrainian fight against Russian forces. She added that the five heads of state and government agreed to continue military support to Ukraine and close cooperation.