U.S. may speed up tank delivery to Ukraine, State Department says
M1 Abrams tanks and other equipment in the United States, July 2, 2019 (Photo:REUTERS/Leah Millis)
M1 Abrams tanks for Ukraine may be pulled from U.S. stocks, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Stanley L. Brown, said in an interview with the Breaking Defense daily newsletter on Feb. 20.
Brown speculated the Biden administration use the presidential drawdown power to speed up transferring tanks to Ukraine.
Brown said the U.S. is still determining which tank models will fit better for Ukrainian needs, and whether these tanks need to be built from scratch or pulled out of stocks. When Washington announced the transfer of 31 Abrams tanks to Kyiv in late January, it was said that they would be M1A2s sent within the framework Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). However, that would mean that they will be newly purchased, rather than withdrawn from existing stockpiles.
But this decision has not been finalized, Brown said.
“They potentially could be a combination of built and out of stockpiles,” he stated.
“We have Abrams in the inventory. We have different versions of Abrams, some older…, and I don’t know what specific ones that Ukraine will ultimately get.”
According to the outlet, delivering existing tanks to Ukraine would significantly speed up the timeline for supplies. The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comments on the matter.
U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby said earlier that it could take many months to deliver tanks to Kyiv. According to a report by U.S. newspaper The Washington Post, Ukraine will receive U.S. tanks no sooner than the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.
On Feb. 20, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that Ukraine's allies will "direct up to 700 tanks for Ukrainian defense". Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine will receive 120-140 modern Western tanks as part of a first wave of such deliveries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has indicated that Ukraine will need 300-500 tanks to launch a counter-offensive.
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