US and Germany to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in major sign of support for Kyiv & More Trending News

 



CNN
 — 

The leaders of the United States and Germany every introduced Wednesday they may send contingents of tanks to Ukraine, reversing their longstanding trepidation at offering Kyiv with offensive armored automobiles and unleashing highly effective new instruments in Ukraine’s efforts to retake territory seized by Russia.

The announcement by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that he’ll send Leopard 2 tanks was coupled with an announcement from US President Joe Biden that he was offering 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, reversing the administration’s longstanding resistance to requests from Kyiv for the extremely refined however maintenance-heavy automobiles.

The twin bulletins made for a landmark second that adopted weeks of intense stress on Berlin from some of its NATO allies. The choices had been the outcome of extended diplomacy between Germany, the United States and different European allies, and come as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky prepares for a brand new Russian offensive this spring.

Speaking from the White House, Biden stated the tanks would “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives” in each the close to and lengthy phrases.

And whereas he touted the flexibility of the tanks to assist Ukraine “counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield,” Biden insisted they shouldn’t be considered by Moscow as an “offensive threat.”

“This is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat to Russia if Russian troops return to Russia, where they belong,” he stated.

Earlier, Scholz advised lawmakers in Germany’s parliament the choice to send Leopard 2 tanks had come after consultations with western allies.

“It is right that we advanced bit by bit. That is the only principle that can work in such dangerous conditions,” he stated.

The dispute over whether or not the Germans would send Leopards to support Ukraine threatened to present some of the primary cracks in the united Western response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But the announcement from Scholz and Biden present the US and its allies are nonetheless working in lockstep when it comes to supporting President Volodymyr Zelensky and his nation’s combat towards the Russians.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg advised CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour” that the German and US choices had been “important announcements” and that he “welcomed US leadership” in making them occur.

“It will significantly strengthen their combat capabilities,” Stoltenberg stated of the impact the tanks could have on Ukraine’s navy.

The US choice to present Abrams tanks to Ukraine represents an abrupt about-face from its earlier acknowledged place. While the Biden administration had by no means taken the likelihood of delivery American tanks totally off the desk, US officers stated publicly final week that it was not the best time to send the 70-ton M-1 Abrams tanks as a result of they’re pricey and require a major quantity of coaching to function.

The tanks, as an alternative, had been repeatedly floated as a long-term possibility – at the same time as critics stated it was the best time, as Ukraine braces for the likelihood Russia will mobilize extra troops and launch a brand new offensive. Zelensky has persistently requested Western allies for fashionable tanks as his nation prepares braces for an anticipated major Russian counteroffensive in the spring.

Yet after an intensive bout of diplomacy with Germany, who had made clear it will solely send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine if the United States provided up the Abrams, Biden has given the sign-off on sending the automobiles. The 31 Abrams will type an entire Ukrainian tank battalion.

“Abrams tanks are the best in the world. This is a tremendous new capability that Ukraine will be getting to boost its long term defenses,” a senior administration official stated, noting that the tanks might be procured by way of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding.

Biden spoke by cellphone Wednesday with Scholz, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to talk about continued navy support for Ukraine. US officers stated sustaining unity among the many western alliance was a crucial consideration as Biden and his crew got here round on sending the Abrams tanks.

The Abrams tanks will take months to arrive, senior administration officers stated, and would require in depth coaching for Ukrainian troops on how to function and service them. The US should navigate sophisticated provide chains for the parts required for the tanks.

The procurement course of will take months, the officers stated, although Germany’s Leopards will arrive in the nearer time period. In the meantime, the US will start a “comprehensive training program” for the Ukrainians on the Abrams, which would require vital upkeep as soon as they’re deployed. The coaching will happen exterior Ukraine.

The US can be procuring eight M88 restoration automobiles, the second official stated, which can assist “keep the Abrams tanks up and running.”

Speaking forward of the president’s announcement, senior US officers framed the choice as an funding in Ukraine’s “longer term capabilities,” a sign the administration sees the now 11-month-long warfare extending nicely into the longer term. Ukraine hopes the brand new tanks can assist it retake territory seized by Russia, together with in the Donbas. That might additionally embody Crimea, the peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

(*2*) an official stated.

Still, officers acknowledged the challenges in offering Ukraine the Abrams tanks had been nonetheless steep.

“There are technical aspects to the Abrams which makes it a little bit more challenging than some systems that that we have provided Ukraine in the past,” a senior official stated. “It is the most capable tank in the world, but it’s also sophisticated.”

The months required to procure, construct and ship the tanks will enable Ukrainian fighters time to find out how to use and preserve them, the official stated.

The Germans’ aim is to assemble two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine, the federal government assertion stated. In a primary step, Berlin will present an organization of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from Bundeswehr shares, with the coaching of the Ukrainian crews to start rapidly in Germany. In addition to coaching, the bundle may even embody logistics, ammunition and upkeep of the methods.

The German protection minister stated the Leopard tanks could possibly be operational in Ukraine in about three months. Boris Pistorius, talking to reporters Wednesday, stated coaching would come first, then the tanks can be despatched east.

The German military has 320 Leopard 2 tanks in its possession however doesn’t reveal what number of can be battle prepared, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Defense beforehand advised CNN.

Germany may even enable different international locations to export the battle tank, it stated. Poland on Tuesday formally requested for approval from Germany to switch some of its German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Several European international locations additionally personal some Leopards, and Poland had led an effort to re-export these to Ukraine even when Germany was not on board.

Addressing the German parliament following the announcement, Scholz stated he had spoken to Zelensky earlier than coming to parliament.

During his speech, the German chief stated Germany along with the US and UK had despatched essentially the most weapons methods to Ukraine and insisted that his nation can be on the forefront of support for Ukraine.

Sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will present Kyiv’s forces with a contemporary and highly effective navy automobile forward of a possible Russian spring offensive. It may even come as a blow to the Kremlin, which has seen a rising marketing campaign to equip Ukrainian troops with high-tech combating methods as Russia’s floor warfare nears the one-year mark.

Germany had initially resisted a rising drumbeat of Western stress to ship some of the tanks to Ukraine, with new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius repeatedly calling for extra time and insisting that the transfer would include professionals and cons for Berlin.

The UK had set the precedent for offering Ukraine with essential battle tanks final week after it pledged to send Kyiv 14 of its British Army Challenger 2 tanks. The settlement crossed what had beforehand appeared to be a pink line for the US and its European allies.

Ukrainian officers have persistently pleaded with their Western allies to present fashionable battle tanks – to be used not solely to defend their current positions but additionally to take the combat to the enemy in the approaching months. Ukrainians worry {that a} second Russian offensive could start inside two months.

Although Ukraine has shares of Soviet-era tanks, fashionable Western tanks present a higher stage of pace and agility. In explicit, the Leopard’s comparatively low-maintenance calls for in contrast to different fashions lead specialists to imagine the tanks might assist Ukraine rapidly on the battlefield.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed Germany’s transfer because the “right decision” in the wake of Wednesday’s announcement.

“The right decision by NATO Allies and friends to send main battle tanks to Ukraine. Alongside Challenger 2s, they will strengthen Ukraine’s defensive firepower. Together, we are accelerating our efforts to ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace,” Sunak wrote on Twitter.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of workers welcomed the information and reiterated the nation wanted “a lot” of Leopard tanks. Writing on Telegram, Andriy Yermak stated: “The first tank step has been taken. Next up is the ‘tank coalition’. We need a lot of Leopards.”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki praised German Chancellor Scholz for his choice. “Thank you Olaf Scholz. The decision to send Leopards to Ukraine is a big step towards stopping Russia. Together we are stronger,” Morawiecki wrote on Twitter.

This story has been up to date with extra developments.

US and Germany to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in major sign of support for Kyiv

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US and Germany to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in major sign of support for Kyiv

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US and Germany to send M1 Abrams and Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine in major sign of support for Kyiv

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