US looking for ways to expedite transfer of Abrams tanks to Ukraine
M1 Abrams tanks and other equipment in the United States, July 2, 2019 (Photo:REUTERS/Leah Millis)
While the delivery of U.S. M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine could take more than a year, Washington is looking for the fastest possible way to facilitate the transfer, U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth told CNN on Feb. 23.
“None of the options that we’re exploring are weeks or two months,” said Wormuth.
“There are longer timelines involved. But I think there are options that are less than two years, less than a year and a half. But again, we have to look at the pros and cons of each of them.”
One of the options that the United States is considering is turning to countries that have previously purchased U.S. tanks. The official explained that this option will "presumably get tanks to the Ukrainians more quickly but might disrupt relations with important allies."
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 The Washington Post, Ukraine will receive Abrams tanks no sooner than the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024.
On Jan. 25, after much hesitation, Germany approved the transfer of 14 Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine and their re-export from partner countries. On the same day, the United States announced the delivery of 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said that the first batch of German-made tanks could be sent to Ukraine by the end of March.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine will receive 120-140 modern Western tanks as part of a first wave of deliveries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has indicated that Ukraine will need 300-500 tanks to launch a major counter-offensive to liberate Russia-occupied territories.
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