After Germany, the US and a number of European countries simultaneously announced that they would supply battle tanks to Ukraine. Russia warned that this move would cause the conflict in Ukraine to escalate to a new level.
The US provided 31 tanks to Ukraine
US President Joe Biden on January 25 approved the aid of 31 US-made M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Ukraine. Speaking from the White House, Biden said these “world’s most powerful” tanks would “help Ukraine strengthen its ability to defend its territory and achieve its strategic goals” both in the near and distant future.
The White House owner also emphasized: “This is not a threat of attack against Russia. There is no threat if Russia withdraws troops to its territory.”
On the same day, US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby explained that the decision to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine was due to the changing situation of the conflict in Ukraine.
“Since this war began 11 months ago, we have been developing the capabilities that we offer to Ukraine, depending on the situation on the ground,” Kirby said.
He added that Washington will not deliver all 31 tanks to Ukraine at once, but gradually supply over many months. Training of Ukrainian soldiers to operate tanks will also be launched soon.
The statement was made not long after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz officially announced that the country would donate Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine. In a statement issued on January 25, Chancellor Scholz affirmed that the decision was “in line with Germany’s policy to support Ukraine with all its might and Germany will act in close coordination.” with allies”.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Germany’s initial goal was to create two battalions of Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine. The first battalion of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks will be supplied by the German army from the German stockpile, with the rest from other European countries. In addition, the German army will also immediately assist in training Ukrainian soldiers, ensuring the transport, ammunition, and maintenance of these tanks.
The West has changed its mind
The above aid statement shows a significant change in the views of the US and Germany. Previously, these two countries hesitated, refusing to supply main battle tanks to Ukraine on the grounds that it was expensive, difficult to maintain, and threatened to escalate the conflict.
Up to now, besides Germany and the US, a number of European countries have announced their readiness to send battle tanks to Kyiv, including Poland, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, and Portugal. Portuguese Foreign Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho said it would take about two to three months for the Leopard tanks to be fully operational in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials say they need about 300-400 tanks to be able to stop the Russian advance, quickly ending the conflict that has lasted more than 11 months. In addition, the weapons they need now are fighter aircraft and modern air defense systems.
Russia warned that the West’s move to aid Ukraine with tanks was “dangerous” and could “push the conflict to a new level”. Moscow also vowed to destroy tanks and all Western weapons shipped to Ukraine.