How the U.S. Got to Yes on Abrams Tanks & More Trending News


By Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali, Steve Holland and Humeyra Pamuk

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – They are costly and onerous to preserve. They run on jet gasoline. And they’re troublesome to function.

The U.S. Pentagon offered its greatest arguments, publicly and privately, in opposition to sending Abrams – its most superior battle tanks – to Ukraine.

    But President Joe Biden finally determined to approve the supply of 31 tanks on Wednesday, which senior U.S. officers mentioned got here from the want to preserve unity amongst allies backing Ukraine.

Biden’s choice capped per week of failed diplomatic efforts to get Germany to ship its foremost Leopard battle tank to Ukraine with out a comparable transfer from Washington.

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The reversal ended a uncommon public division in the alliance that Washington officers feared Moscow may exploit.

    Since the begin of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Biden and European allies have sought to current a picture of harmonious assist for Ukraine regardless of occasional disagreements.

The billions of {dollars} price of Western weaponry funneled into the nation, Western allies mentioned, had been tangible indicators that Russian President Vladimir Putin had failed to divide the West as he pressed his almost year-old invasion.

    But the cut up over German tanks undermined these efforts, elevating questions on whether or not the West would fall brief in offering the heavy armor that Kyiv says it wants to mount a spring counteroffensive.

    U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin arrived in Berlin final Wednesday to persuade Germany’s new protection minister Boris Pistorius that Germany ought to at the very least permit nations like Poland to re-export their Leopard tanks to Ukraine. 

    “The secretary will be pressing the Germans on this,” one senior U.S. protection official mentioned at the time.

    The journey, which included a day-long assembly at Ramstein air base in Germany, failed to obtain a breakthrough and left U.S. officers pissed off. 


In Washington, senior U.S. officers had privately expressed consternation at Germany’s makes an attempt to tie the Abrams tanks to supply of the Leopards.

One senior administration official, talking on situation of anonymity, advised reporters that U.S. officers didn’t assume the Abrams tanks had been a web optimistic for Ukraine as a result of they’re troublesome to function and preserve.

But Germany didn’t need to go it alone, the official mentioned, prompting the Americans to ponder whether there was deeper motive in Berlin having to do with the symbolism of German tanks rolling in jap Europe for a rustic nonetheless scarred from beginning World War Two.

At the identical time, U.S. officers had been making an attempt to reply the clamor from Ukraine for tanks whereas impressing on the Ukrainians that there are limits to help in the lengthy haul.

    The Germans refused to budge. As Austin landed in Berlin, German officers advised reporters that Berlin would permit German-made tanks to be despatched to Ukraine if the United States agreed to ship its personal tanks. 

    German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had burdened that stipulation a number of instances behind closed doorways. He additionally mentioned the concern in a number of telephone conversations with Biden this month, senior Biden administration officers mentioned.

That led to media protection of divisions between the United States and Germany that raised eyebrows again in Washington, the place officers thought that they had been clear in opposition to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

U.S. officers argued that American contributions to the Ukraine battle effort had been substantial with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, air protection techniques, thousands and thousands of artillery rounds and different potent weaponry. Each Abrams tank prices greater than $10 million, together with coaching and sustainment.

“The headline is not about whether we’ve come to agreement or not with Germany on tanks. The headline is the United States has provided $5 billion of security assistance to Ukraine in the last month,” one senior official mentioned on Friday.

    In public, the United States took the excessive highway, insisting it was Berlin’s sovereign choice to make.

But at one level throughout Austin’s journey, Washington requested Berlin to cease publicly tying Germany’s approval of the Leopard tanks to the Biden administration sending Abrams tanks. 

    The American strain appeared to have labored, no less than for some time. Pistorius, the German protection minister, advised a TV interview on Thursday that he didn’t know of any requirement that Ukraine obtain U.S. and German tanks concurrently. 

    On Friday, a German authorities spokesperson even mentioned the supply of Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine was by no means tied to the United States making the same transfer.

    But again in Washington, officers had been on the lookout for “creative solutions.” However, the concern got here to a shock shut on Wednesday when Biden introduced his approval alongside the same German announcement.

    The compromise seems to have been a choice to ship Abrams not now, however someday down the highway – months from now.

Despite the unsure timeline, Ukraine has welcomed the choices. “It’s an important step on the path to victory,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy tweeted on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali, Steve Holland and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mary Milliken and Josie Kao)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

How the U.S. Got to Yes on Abrams Tanks

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