WASHINGTON (HPD) — In what would be a reversal of position, President Joe Biden’s administration is on the verge of approving the shipment of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said Tuesday, as international reluctance to send tanks to the battlefront against the Russians begins to give way.
The decision could be announced as soon as Wednesday, although delivery of the tanks could take months or years. US authorities said the details are still being worked out.
An official said the tanks would be purchased in a forthcoming package under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which provides long-term financing to purchase weapons and equipment from private suppliers.
The US announcement is expected to come on Wednesday in coordination with Germany’s announcement that it will approve Poland’s request to transfer its German Leopard 2 tanks of war to Ukraine, according to an official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision has not yet been made public.
By agreeing to send the Abrams at an as-yet-unspecified deadline under the assistance initiative, the administration can meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s demand that the United States commit without having to send the tanks immediately.
Weapons supplied through the assistance initiative can take anywhere from months to several years to reach the battlefield. Much of the aid sent so far in this 11-month war has come through a separate program that uses Pentagon stockpiles to get weapons to Ukraine faster. But even under that program, it would take months to get the tanks to Ukraine and train Ukrainian forces in their handling. It is not known how many tanks will be approved.
Until now, the United States has resisted supplying Ukraine with M1 Abrams tanks, citing the enormous logistical and maintenance problems posed by these high-tech vehicles.