By Nandita Bole, Steve Holland, and Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON (Reuters)—The United States announced on Wednesday it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth $400 million in a matter of months, a decision that helped break a diplomatic logjam with Germany over how best to help Kyiv in its war against Russia.
President Joe Biden made the announcement at the White House. He stated that tanks are necessary to assist the Ukrainians. “improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain.”
Biden thanked Germany’s decision to provide Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks and listed all the on-the ground military hardware that other NATO allies were providing. “Germany has really stepped up,” He stated.
“The expectation on the part of Russia is we’re going to break up,” Biden spoke of the U.S. allies and European ones. ‘But, we are fully united.”
The United States had been cool to the idea of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams tanks but had to change tack in order to persuade Germany to send its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as the Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counter-offensive to try to drive Russia out of territory it has seized.
“Russia is not under any offensive threat” from the tanks, Biden said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said any Abrams shipments would be a waste of money as they “Burn” like other tanks in Ukraine.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, hailed the tank announcements as a “Historic day” that would help determine the outcome of the war.
Biden said the U.S. decision was not in response to pressure from Germany, answering a reporter’s shouted question. “Germany did not force me to change my mind. We wanted to be together.” he stated.
MONTHS OF DELIVERY
The Abrams — among the most powerful U.S. tanks — will not be heading to Ukraine anytime soon.
Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said it will take months, not weeks, for the Abrams to be delivered and described the move in terms of providing for Ukraine’s long-term defense.
Members of the Ukrainian military will be trained on using the Abrams in a yet-to-be determined location. While a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, the Abrams is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical resupply challenge because it runs on jet fuel.
The total cost of a single Abrams tanks can vary,
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