In reversal, US agrees to send 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine

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WASHINGTON - The United States announced on Wednesday it will supply Ukraine with 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks in a matter of months, a decision that helped break a diplomatic logjam with Germany over how best to help Kyiv in its war against Russia.

US President Joe Biden was announcing the decision in remarks at the White House. The United States had been cool to the idea of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams tanks but had to change tack in order to persuade Germany to send its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Still, the Abrams – among the most powerful US tanks – will not be heading to Ukraine anytime soon.

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters on the decision said it will take months, not weeks, for the Abrams to be delivered and described the move in terms of providing for Ukraine’s long-term defense.

Members of the Ukrainian military will be trained on using the Abrams in a yet-to-be determined location. While a highly sophisticated and expensive weapon, the Abrams is difficult to maintain and provides a logistical resupply challenge because it runs on jet fuel.

The total cost of a single Abrams tanks can vary, and can be over US$10 million (S$13.15 million) per tanks when including training and sustainment.

The decisions by Washington and Berlin come as the Western allies help Ukraine prepare for a possible spring counter-offensive to try to drive Russia out of territory it has seized.

Senior administration officials said Biden had spoken to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on multiple occasions this month about assistance to Ukraine. He talked again on Wednesday to Scholz as well as to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, both of whom are close allies in helping Ukraine.

“Today’s announcement really was a product of good diplomatic conversations as part of our regular and ongoing close consultations with allies and partners on security assistance to Ukraine,” said one...

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