The Biden administration plans to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, in what would be a major step in arming Kyiv as it tries to seize back its territory from Russia.
The White House is expected to announce a decision as early as Wednesday, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. One official said the number of Abrams tanks could be between 30 and 50. It could take years before the U.S. tanks reach Ukraine, but would meet a request Berlin had made and clear the way for Germany and other countries to send their battle tanks.
The plan to send the Abrams tanks comes after a testy confrontation last week during a NATO defense chiefs meeting over the refusal by Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to send the Leopards, which many military experts believe could be a decisive weapon in Ukrainian hands.
German officials privately have insisted that they would only send the tanks, among the most advanced in the world, if the United States agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks. Publicly, American and German officials have denied that the two issues were linked.
While it’ll take years for M-1s to get to be operational in Ukraine, the Bradley M-2 MICVs and Stryker should be deployed in-theater much sooner.