In the footsteps of Germany, Biden announces the future delivery of 31 tanks to Ukraine

After long procrastination, the United States will deliver 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to help it fight the Russian invasion, American President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday, in the wake of the German green light to send tanks in kyiv and despite warnings from Moscow.

It’s about “helping Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Biden said in a brief address.

“It is not an offensive threat against Russia. There is no offensive threat against Russia,” he insisted.

This announcement comes after Germany gave its approval to send Leopard 2 heavy tanks to Ukraine, after weeks of hesitation.

President Biden said he spoke earlier Wednesday with leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Britain “to continue our close coordination and full support for Ukraine.”

– Tank training –

Russian President Vladimir “Putin” expected the resolve of Europe and the United States to weaken. He expected our support for Ukraine to crumble over time. He was wrong,” said the American president.

kyiv has been asking Westerners for weeks for modern tanks, deeming them essential to repel the invasion.

However, the American tanks should not be delivered immediately: “We are talking about months, not weeks”, according to a senior American official. In particular, the question remained to be clarified as to whether it was an order for new tanks, the shipment of renovated tanks or from third countries.

An Abrams tank in Poland on December 3, 2022 (AFP/Archives – MATEUSZ SLODKOWSKI)

Until recently, the United States said it was not ready to provide its most advanced heavy tanks, the Abrams, to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion, justifying this refusal by questions of maintenance and training.

Last week, the Pentagon’s number three, Colin Kahl, pointed out that the Abrams tank was “a very complicated piece of equipment”.

“It is expensive, it requires difficult training, it has a jet engine. I believe it consumes 11 liters of kerosene per km”, explained Mr. Kahl, undersecretary of defense for strategy. . “It’s not the easiest system to maintain,” he added.

– “Extremely dangerous” –

On Wednesday, senior US officials said on condition of anonymity that the United States would train Ukrainians “outside Ukraine” in tank handling.

They also explained that 31 tanks would be delivered precisely because this figure corresponds to the composition of a Ukrainian tank battalion.

US authorities are working “on mechanisms to deliver the fuel and equipment that Ukraine will need to operate and maintain the Abrams,” one said.

In recent days, pressure had increased on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to give the green light to the delivery of Leopard. On Wednesday, he agreed to the delivery by Poland and other countries that would like it of Leopard 2 tanks, while affirming that he wanted to avoid “an escalation” which would lead to a war between Russia and NATO.

Moscow for its part denounced an “extremely dangerous decision which will bring the conflict to a new level of confrontation”, according to the Russian ambassador in Berlin Sergei Netchaev.

“This convinces us once again that Germany, like its closest allies, does not want a diplomatic solution to the Ukrainian crisis and wants a permanent escalation,” he said. said again.

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