Washington, Jan 25 (EFE).- The United States on Wednesday announced that it will sent 31 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine and immediately will begin training Ukrainian troops in a third country on their use and maintenance.
The top-of-the-line tanks will take “months” to arrive in Ukraine, however, but will be accompanied by other armored so-called M88 recovery vehicles that are used to tow and service them, a high US official said in remarks to reporters.
According to that source, the Joe Biden administration has decided to send exactly 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine because that constitutes one battalion of tanks in the Ukrainian armed forces. The US reportedly has some 4,000 of the tanks in its inventory.
Despite the fact that the tanks will take some time to arrive, the US will immediately begin training Ukrainian soldiers in how to operate the “complicated” vehicles as well as how to maintain them over the long term.
The training will take place in a third country rather than in Ukraine itself but the US government still has not made public where that training will be undertaken.
Meanwhile, the US Defense Department is looking for mechanisms that will allow the shipment to Ukraine of the equipment and fuel the Abrams tanks need, another top official told reporters.
Biden said in a White House speech on Wednesday officially announcing the tank shipment that the 31 Abrams will “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives” because they are “the most capable tanks in the world.”
“That’s what this is about – helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia, there is no offensive threat to Russia,” the president said.
The president also spoke on Wednesday by telephone with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with French President Emmanuel Macron and with the prime ministers of the United Kingdom and Italy, Rishi Sunak and Giorgia Meloni, respectively, the White House said.
According to what yet another US official said, sending the Abrams tanks demonstrates the “long-term commitment” of the US to Ukraine’s defense and the “strong unity and determination” of the international community in helping Kyiv defend itself against the Russian invasion launched on Feb. 24, 2022.
Germany announced on Wednesday that it will send 14 Leopard 2A6 tanks to Ukraine and other countries, such as Spain, have expressed their readiness to sent those German-made battle tanks in their inventories to the beleaguered East European country.
Germany had said that it would not send its Leopards to Ukraine unless Washington agreed to send US-made Abrams to Kyiv.
Biden said, however, that “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.”
So far, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden have agreed to send hundreds of tanks and heavy armored vehicles to Ukraine given that a new phase in the war is in the offing and Kyiv’s forces are undertaking offensive operations to penetrate Russian lines in areas of Ukraine that the Russian forces presently control.