US President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the delivery of dozens of US-made M1 Abrams tanks will significantly bolster Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against Russia’s ongoing offensive. Formally announcing his decision to send 31 tanks in response to Kyiv’s appeals, Biden said the weapons will “enhance” Ukraine’s “capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives.” “The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world. They’re also extremely complex to operate and maintain, so we’re also giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively sustain these tanks on the battlefield,” he told reporters at the White House. Training Ukrainian troops to use, maintain and supply the tanks will begin “as soon as possible,” said the president, noting that deliveries of the advanced weapons system “is going to take time.” A senior administration official who briefed reporters earlier on the matter said the tanks will be delivered in a matter of months, rather than weeks, but did not have a firm timeline. Asked why the Biden administration fixed the number of tanks at 31, the official said the figure was decided because it is equivalent to one Ukrainian tank battalion.
In addition to the tanks, the US will be procuring eight M88 armored vehicles for Ukraine. The M88s accompany the Abrams and provide support if they become damaged or stuck, and allow maintenance to be conducted in the field. The announcement comes in the wake of Germany signing off on the delivery of 14 of its Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks, and announcing that it would allow other nations already in possession of the tanks to export them to Ukraine. The German Defense Ministry subsequently announced that it would begin training Ukrainian troops on the Leopards within days.

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