West News Wire: According to senior administration officials, President Joe Biden has approved sending 31 M1 Abrams tanks to the war-torn nation of Ukraine as concerns grow over a new Russian escalation.
The reason for the number 31 is because a Ukrainian tank battalion would consist of that many tanks, an official informed reporters in a conference call earlier on Wednesday. We expressly meet that condition, then.
At noon ET, the president will deliver remarks on “continuing assistance for Ukraine” from the White House’s Roosevelt Room. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, has made a direct call for more tanks due to the country’s hard winter and the impending one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The U.S. announcement about its tank commitment comes the same day Germany has also pledged to send Ukraine 14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks.
Political gymnastics have muddled Ukraine’s plea for more tanks as Russia prepares for a spring offensive, with Germany reportedly hesitant to send Leopard 2s until the U.S. promised to send Abrams tanks vehicles which Pentagon officials have publicly said weren’t suited for the fight.
Early Wednesday, Germany confirmed it will supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks and approve requests by dozens of other countries to do the same. The U.K. has also committed 12 of its own Challenger 2 battle tanks, and Poland has asked Germany for permission to send the Leopards it has in stock.
Still, this falls far short of the 300 battle tanks that Zelenskyy has said he needs for the war.
U.S. officials argued that this new shipment of tanks highlights the unity among all allies working to support Ukraine, minimizing the disagreement between the U.S. and Germany on the usefulness of the Abrams vehicles.
Russia’s ambassador to Washington has described the rumored delivery of US tanks to Kiev as “another blatant provocation” by the “real aggressor” in the conflict, adding that they will “no doubt be destroyed” along with other hardware that NATO has poured into Ukraine over the past year.