The first batch of American-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks “will soon enter Ukraine”, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Tuesday. An unnamed military official told AFP that deliveries would begin within days.
“I am (…) happy to announce that the M1 Abrams tanks that the United States was previously committed to will soon enter Ukraine,” ” Austin said at a meeting of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group in Germany.
This panel of nearly 50 countries has met 15 times since the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine last February, with each meeting followed by new pledges of military aid from America and its allies. .
Citing an unnamed US military official, the AFP news agency reported that the first Abrams tanks would arrive in Ukraine in the coming days, with the process expected to be completed within weeks.
The tanks will be equipped with depleted uranium shells, a toxic munition whose use has been condemned by the United Nations.
kyiv has been asking for these flagship American tanks since last year, but Washington is reluctant to deliver them. Last January, Pentagon officials told the Washington Post that Abrams tanks were too fuel-consuming and unreliable for the Ukrainian military to use them effectively.
After claiming it would take more than a year to equip Kiev with the latest M1A2 variant of the tank, Pentagon spokesman Pat Ryder said in March that older M1A1 models would be repaired in Germany and shipped to Ukraine before the end of 2023. In recent weeks, it has been suggested that 31 M1A1 models will be delivered by the fall.
The tanks will arrive immediately before the end of Ukraine’s fighting season, meaning their impact on the current front line will likely be minor. Last week, US Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told the BBC that kyiv had “There are about 30 to 45 days of fighting left” before mud and rain prevented large-scale maneuvers on the battlefield.
Even under favorable conditions, the Ukrainian army failed to achieve its summer goal of dividing the Russian front in two in the Zaporozhye region. kyiv lost more than 70,000 men, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. In return, Ukraine captured only a handful of small villages in the region, while losing dozens of Western-supplied tanks and armored vehicles.
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