In an abrupt volte-face, the United States announced on Wednesday it will be sending 31 advanced M1 Abrams tanks worth USD 400 million to Ukraine in a matter of months, a decision that helped break a diplomatic stalemate with Germany over how best to aid Kyiv in repelling Russian invaders.
Not thanks to benevolence, neither prudence, nor German orderliness but it was the pressure Poland has been exerting on Germany ever since Russia...see more
President Joe Biden dropped the bombshell, so to say, at the White House (WINK, WINK), saying the tanks were needed to help the Ukrainians “improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain.”
Biden extended his thanks to Germany for its decision to beef Ukraine up with Leopard 2 tanks and listed the other on-the-ground military hardware which other NATO allies and other European countries were sending. “Germany has really stepped up,” he said.
“The expectation on the part of Russia is we’re going to break up,” Biden said of the U.S. and European allies. “But we are fully, totally and thoroughly united.”
Washington has been weighing the idea of deploying the difficult-to-maintain Abrams tanks carefully but had to change tack in order to convince Germany to deliver its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The Polish government’s pressure on Germany has proven to be key in German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coming to the decision to send the Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
Washington and Berlin’s decisions come amidst Western efforts to relieve Ukraine with military equipment ahead of a highly-likely spring counter-offensive planned at driving Russia out of territory it has seized.
“There is no offensive threat to Russia” from the tanks, Biden said.
“A historic day” is how the head of the Ukrainian presidential administration, Andriy Yermak, described the tank announcements, adding that they would help in determining the outcome of the war.
Biden said the U.S. decision was not a response to pressure from Germany, answering a reporter's heckled question. “Germany didn't force me to change my mind, we wanted to make sure we were all together,” he said.