The Biden administration will announce as soon as Wednesday that it will send about 30 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, despite hesitations over the advanced battle tank's service and training needs, The Wall Street Journal and other news organizations reported Tuesday evening. Germany, which privately insisted that the U.S. commit to sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine before it agreed to allow its Leopard 2 tanks to be transferred, will reportedly sign off on those deliveries Wednesday as well.
Ukraine has been asking for modern Western battle tanks for months, and "NATO allies, including the United States, have agreed the heavy armor is needed, particularly as they step up training of Ukrainian forces to perform 'combined arms' maneuvers" to push through "entrenched Russian forces" in southern and eastern Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. Abrams tanks are considered the world's most powerful, but the Leopard 2 tanks are on par and have other advantages. Both are superior to the Soviet-era tanks both Ukraine and Russia have been using in battle.
The U.S. and other NATO countries favored sending Leopard tanks, because there are about 2,000 of them stationed in Europe, and they are seen as easier to maintain. Germany said it did not want only German tanks battling Russian forces, but agreed that the Abrams did not have to arrive at the same time as the Leopards. The Abrams tanks "are expected to be ordered from manufacturers, rather than transferred from existing U.S. stocks, and the main usefulness in announcing them now appeared designed to break a logjam with the Germans," the Post adds. The U.S. tanks won't arrive in Ukraine for months, if not years.
The Leopard 2 tanks will arrive quicker, likely in time for springtime offensives being planned by Russia and Ukraine. Poland on Tuesday officially requested that Germany approve the transfer of 14 Polish Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, and a senior German politician told the Journal that "Berlin would pledge on Wednesday to provide around 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Kyiv from its stocks and approve third-party requests from other European countries." Poland and Germany say European nations could collectively send Ukraine about 100 Leopard tanks.