Joining its European allies who have committed to equip Kyiv with Leopard-2 and Challenger-2 main battle tanks, the United States will deliver 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. President Joe Biden said during a press briefing on Jan. 25.
Biden noted that Washington had already transferred hundreds of armored vehicles to Ukraine, and at least 500 more were included in the Jan. 20 security assistance package.
He called the M1 Abrams tank the most powerful in the world, while also being extremely difficult to maintain and use. Ukraine will also receive the equipment and spare parts needed to keep the tanks running. Biden added that while the delivery of Abrams to the front may take time, the training of the Ukrainian crews will begin as soon as possible.
“It’s the time that we will use to make sure that Ukrainians are fully ready to incorporate the Abrams tanks into their defense,” Biden said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Twitter thanked the U.S. president and the American people for their unwavering support.
“This is an important step towards defeating the Russian aggressor,” wrote Zelenskyy.
“The free world is now more than ever united for the sake of a common goal – the liberation of Ukraine from invaders. Let's move forward!”
Biden also specified that European allies would hand over two tank battalions to Ukraine's defenders, and thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for “leadership and his unwavering commitment to the collective effort to support Ukraine.”
Before the speech, Biden held talks with NATO allies, coordinating with French, German, Italian, and UK leaders.
The president also provided a short summary of heavy military equipment Ukraine’s allies agreed to contribute during last week’s “Ramstein” meeting:
● UK: Challenger-2 tanks;
● France: AMX-10 armored vehicles;
● Germany: Patriot SAM battery (along with the United States), in addition to Leopard tanks;
● Netherlands: Patriot SAM launchers and missiles;
● France, Canada, the UK, Slovakia, Norway, and others – air defense systems;
● Poland: armored vehicles;
● Sweden: infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs);
● Italy: artillery systems;
● Denmark and Estonia: self-propelled howitzers;
● Latvia: Stinger missiles;
● Lithuania: anti-aircraft guns.
Defense ministers of Ukraine’s international partners gathered at the U.S. Air Force Ramstein base in Germany on Jan. 20, discussing the ongoing and future efforts to equip Kyiv’s troops with modern weapons.
On Jan. 25, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz officially announced that Germany would transfer 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine and approve their re-export from partner countries. According to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, the tanks could be sent to Ukraine in about three months.
According to German media, Scholz earlier told Biden that he would approve the transfer of German Leopard tanks to Ukraine if Washington supplied Kyiv with Abrams tanks. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius subsequently denied this precondition was ever mentioned.
U.S. Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said on Jan. 19 that there is currently “no sense” in supplying Ukraine with U.S.-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks.