USA deliver 31 Abrams tanks and praise Germany’s “remarkable turnaround”.

Washington After weeks of hesitation, the US has decided to supply tanks to Ukraine. A battalion of 31 M1-Abrams tanks is planned to support Ukraine on the battlefield in the future. The White House announced on Wednesday. The announcement came shortly after Germany’s decision to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

In addition, the USA is providing eight M88 Recovery Vehicles, so-called armored recovery vehicles, which are intended to ensure the complicated maintenance of the Abrams. The shipments are valued at $400 million. US media had already reported on the decision on Tuesday, with confirmation and details still pending.

On Wednesday morning, US President Joe Biden called the governments in Paris, London, Rome and Berlin to underline the “strong alliance of the West” in the Ukraine war. Soon he wants to explain the tank deliveries to the American public in a speech.

However, the American tanks are not immediately available to the Ukrainians. A senior US administration official admitted the actual deployment was “months rather than weeks” away. Because of their turbine engines, the 70-ton trucks consume a lot of kerosene, and their use requires extensive training.

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The White House left it open where the training should take place. Most recently, the Americans had used US military bases or locations in Germany for training in defense equipment. The only thing that is certain is that “training takes place outside of Ukraine,” said the government official.

The USA came a long way towards Germany

With its own supply of tanks, Washington has solved a blockage in the German position on the use of western tanks. The decision “unleashed Germany’s leopards and gave the Ukrainians a chance for a combative counter-offensive,” Peter Rough, director of the Europa Center at the Washington think tank Hudson Institute, told Handelsblatt.

“It’s a good result after a bad process,” said former adviser to ex-President George W. Bush. Because the federal government, as US government officials had suggested, only wanted to supply German tanks in cooperation with the United States. The struggle for a common strategy strained the transatlantic relationship.

In Washington, fears are increasingly being voiced that Russia might feel strengthened should the West be divided over the tank issue. For this reason, too, according to diplomatic circles, efforts were being made to find a solution that would make Berlin happy.

Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan negotiated “intensively and repeatedly” with Berlin. “Transatlantic unity is our greatest strength,” a statement from the White House said. It is recognized that Germany is also making a significant contribution to the Ukraine war. “The turning point in German security policy is really remarkable,” it said, “we work hand in hand”.

In order to accommodate Germany, Biden apparently prevailed against the assessment of his ministries. Because US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley had advised against the Abrams mission until the end – the tanks were too complex, too heavy, too fuel-intensive, they explained. American tanks in Ukraine “just don’t make sense at this point,” the Defense Ministry said on Friday.

American and German tanks in Crimea?

Since the US has just put together a $2.5 billion weapons package, the tanks will not be financed from budget funds. Instead, a fund called the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) comes into play. It allows the US government to source arms from private industry and allied countries, rather than from existing arms inventories.

With the fund solution, the United States will not be in the embarrassment of having to send tanks to the battlefield immediately. At the same time, the US government is giving Germany political cover to supply its own tanks. The Abrams tanks, government officials said Wednesday, are designed more as a “long-term investment in Ukraine’s defense,” unlike the German Leopards.

As one official went on to say, the tanks could help Ukraine “take back Ukrainian territory.” This also includes Crimea, he emphasized when asked. Crimea is occupied by Russia, but is still internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory. For several weeks, security experts have been discussing the scenario that the Ukrainians could move into Crimea with American and European tanks – which could result in an unpredictable reaction from the Russians.

This is how the Handelsblatt reports on the tank deliveries to Ukraine:

The Biden government therefore sees every new military delivery as a balancing act. For example, Washington does not want to send long-range, longer-range missiles that can penetrate deep into Russia into the war-torn country. Because that could embroil the US and its allies in a direct conflict with Vladimir Putin, the US President warned.

Biden is also under pressure domestically, because there is not much scope for additional military equipment. Sections of the Republicans, who have dominated the House of Representatives in the US Congress since January, want to block aid to Ukraine.

The corruption allegations against the Ukrainian government complicate the situation. So far, a majority of US citizens support the funds for Ukraine, but support is falling, according to polls. The US State Department said on Tuesday it had no evidence that US aid was misappropriated in Ukraine’s corruption scandal.

More: The Leopard 2 and the Abrams 1 can do that

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