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Biden administration, in a U-turn, prepares to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine

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After weeks of discussions, the Biden administration is preparing to send Abrams tanks to Ukraine, according to three senior US officials.

The administration could announce the decision as early as Wednesday. The current plan includes a few dozen Abrams tanks, but officials stressed that the decision is not yet final and could change.

The tanks would not be immediately available to the Ukrainians. It will take several months before the high-tech vehicles hit the ground in Ukraine, officials said, and the training of Ukrainian troops is also expected to take several months.

The tanks would be paid for through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which draws weapons and equipment from private industry rather than US stocks.

The decision to go ahead with supplying the tanks would be a turnaround for the Biden administration, which had resisted pressure from Germany to send them to Ukraine.

As recently as last Friday, US officials insisted that President Joe Biden was unwilling to provide Abrams tanks to Ukraine because members of his national security team, including Secretary of State Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley did not believe they would be a net benefit to the Ukrainians given the difficulty of operating and maintaining them.

An official also stressed at the time that Biden would not provide the Ukrainians with an expensive and difficult-to-maintain system that his team said would not help them against the Russians.

It was not immediately clear what might have caused the Biden administration to seemingly change its stance on sending the tanks.

Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder declined to address the issue Tuesday during a briefing. “When and if we have something to announce, we will,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Biden administration is “looking into sending” Abrams tanks to Ukraine.

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