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Pentagon confirms 31 Abrams tanks will be sent to Ukraine as part of security assistance initiative

Illustration: US Army file photo

After Germany said it would be sending 14 Leopard 2 A6 main battle tanks, the US department of defense confirmed 31 Abrams tanks would be transferred as part of the latest Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).

First reports on the German and US plans emerged on January 24, and were confirmed by the country’s defense ministries a day later.

Both countries also said the decisions would include training of the Ukrainian crews, logistics, ammunition and maintenance of the tanks.

Germany said the 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks would come from Bundeswehr stocks and form a company. According to German defense minister Boris Pistorius, the first tanks from Germany should be in Ukraine in three months. “Of course, this is an intervention in the troops’ stocks, but it does not affect the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr,” the defense minister added.

Other European partners will also hand over Leopard 2 tanks. In this way, two tank battalions with Leopard 2 tanks are to be assembled quickly for Ukraine.

The Pentagon said the USAI package was worth $400 million, and would include 31 Abrams tanks with 120mm rounds and other ammunition, eight M88 tactical vehicles to recover equipment, support vehicles and equipment, as well as funding for training, maintenance, and sustainment.

“Alongside the battalion of Abrams tanks provided by the United States, a European consortium is committing to provide two battalions of Leopard tanks to Ukraine in the near term. The United States will continue to work with our Allies and partners to meet Ukraine’s battlefield needs to counter Russian aggression and ensure the continued freedom and independence of the Ukrainian people,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

These tanks are needed, US president Joe Biden said, because Ukrainian forces are working to defend the territory they hold and will be better prepared for additional counter-offenses.

“They need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term. They need to improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain. And, they need an enduring capability to deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long term,” the president said.

Along with the tanks, the US will be giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively repair and maintain these tanks on the battlefield, he added.

In total, the United States has now committed more than $27.8 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $29.9 billion in security assistance to Ukraine and more than $27.1 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked and brutal invasion on February 24, 2022.