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President Biden announced on Wednesday that his administration would send 31 of its high-end battle tanks – the M1 Abrams – to Ukraine, a significant escalation in military aid as fighting is expected to intensify in the spring.

The move comes after US officials raised concerns for weeks about the Ukrainian military’s ability to operate and maintain the tanks. But pressure to send the Abrams grew when it became clear that Germany was also reluctant to deliver its Leopard 2 tanks – which are more ubiquitous and easier to use – without a similar move from states. -United.

Germany also announced on Wednesday that it would deliver 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Here is what you need to know about the American battle tank:

Why does Ukraine want the American M1 Abrams?

Kyiv pleaded with its partners to send Western heavy battle tanks that could work in its favor on the front lines, where the conflict has largely stagnated in recent months. The American main battle tank, in service since 1980, is among the most powerful in the world. In modern versions of the vehicle, layers of depleted uranium armor provide substantial protection to those inside.

The United States and its allies have said Ukraine needs heavy armor as it expands the training of Ukrainian forces to fight Russian troops in the east of the country. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg this week called the delivery of tanks and other armored vehicles “urgent”.

Russian forces are expected to launch a new offensive in the spring, and Ukraine aims to launch its own counter-offensive to retake Russian-occupied territory. Tanks will be crucial in giving Ukraine the edge, Ukrainian officials and partner nations have said, especially as allies train Ukrainian forces to carry out “combined arms” maneuvers against entrenched Russian forces along from the front line to the east.

The main battle tanks are heavier and more powerful than the infantry fighting vehicles that Ukraine currently uses or will soon receive. They are intended to engage other tanks and break through enemy lines. And their caterpillars are made to move over open terrain, similar to the landscape of eastern Ukraine.

How Western Fighting Vehicles Headed To Ukraine Could Change The War

The Kremlin, commenting on a possible supply of Abrams tanks to Kyiv on Wednesday, said they “will burn like all the others” and their potential to help Ukraine has been overstated, according to Russian news agencies.

The Abrams donation could have more symbolic than strategic value: Ukrainian officials have urged Washington to approve a delivery of Abrams, arguing it would incentivize Germany to send its own tanks and break the deadlock over sending such weapons from across Europe.

These tanks are ubiquitous throughout Europe, but deliveries require approval from Germany, the manufacturer, which has been reluctant to make such a move unilaterally. The US decision to send Abrams tanks appears to have convinced Berlin, which said on Wednesday it would allow other countries to deliver their Leopard 2s as well.

Why is Germany under pressure to send tanks to Ukraine?

Why was the United States reluctant to send the tanks?

Biden administration officials have previously said the US-made tanks, which weigh around 70 tons, present logistical challenges for the battlefield in Ukraine. They are heavier than the Leopard 2 tanks. Instead of diesel fuel, which powers the Leopards, the Abrams’ multi-fuel engine typically runs on jet fuel, which can be more difficult to maintain.

Promises of more modern equipment for Ukraine also raised questions about how its allies would train Ukrainian troops to use them.

US officials said the Abrams required complicated special maintenance, logistics and training. “It’s expensive. It’s hard to train. … It’s not the easiest system to maintain,” Undersecretary of Defense Colin Kahl told reporters last week after a visit to Kyiv.

Throughout the war, US officials also weighed carefully whether sending a particular weapons system to Kyiv might induce Russia to escalate the conflict.

But after discussions with their German counterparts, the Biden administration decided to donate the tanks, while Berlin approved sending Leopards. Biden said Wednesday that the decision did not pose “an offensive threat to Russia” but was intended to help Ukraine defend itself against “really brutal Russian aggression.”

“To liberate their land, they must be able to counter Russia’s evolving battlefield tactics and strategy in the very short term,” Biden said of the Ukrainian forces.

Comparable battlefield

heavyweight

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the United States’ M1 Abrams feature similar measurements and capabilities; indeed, some of the similarities are deliberate, to ensure the tanks can cooperate on NATO battlefields.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists;

Military-Today.com

WILLIAM NEFF / WASHINGTON POST

US plans to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine: what you need to know

Comparable heavyweights on the battlefield

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the United States’ M1 Abrams feature similar measurements and capabilities; indeed, some of the similarities are deliberate, to ensure the tanks can cooperate on NATO battlefields.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

WILLIAM NEFF / WASHINGTON POST

US plans to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine: what you need to know

Comparable heavyweights on the battlefield

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the United States’ M1 Abrams feature similar measurements and capabilities; indeed, some of the similarities are deliberate, to ensure the tanks can cooperate on NATO battlefields.

About 70 tons

About 55 tons

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

WILLIAM NEFF / WASHINGTON POST

US plans to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine: what you need to know

Comparable heavyweights on the battlefield

Germany’s Leopard 2 main battle tank and the United States’ M1 Abrams feature similar measurements and capabilities; indeed, some of the similarities are deliberate, to ensure the tanks can cooperate on NATO battlefields.

About 70 tons

About 55 tons

Sources: Federation of American Scientists; Military-Today.com

WILLIAM NEFF / WASHINGTON POST

How many Abrams tanks will Washington send – and when?

The United States plans to send 31 tanks — enough for a battalion, a Biden administration official told The Washington Post. Delivery could take months or even years. The delay is partly because the US government will buy the tanks from manufacturers rather than transferring them from existing inventory. They will be paid with the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, a fund for the purchase of military equipment for Ukraine that the United States does not yet have on hand.

Ukrainian troops must also be trained on how to operate and maintain the Abrams and how to integrate the tanks into offensive operations.

Leopards from Germany and European allies will likely arrive earlier and could shape the battlefield this spring.

The United States will give Ukraine advanced M1 tanks

Adam Taylor, Loveday Morris, Karen DeYoung and Dan Lamothe contributed to this report.

War in Ukraine: what you need to know

The last: Russia claimed on Friday it had taken control of Soledar, a hotly contested mining town in eastern Ukraine where fighting has raged in recent days, but a Ukrainian military official argued the battle was not yet over. completed.

Russia’s bet: The Post examined the path to war in Ukraine and Western efforts to unite to thwart the Kremlin’s plans, through in-depth interviews with more than three dozen senior US, Ukrainian, European and NATO officials.

Pictures: Washington Post photographers have been in the field since the start of the war. Here are some of their most powerful works.

How you can help: Here’s how those in the United States can support the people of Ukraine as well as what people around the world have donated.

Read our full coverage of the Russia–Ukraine War. Are you on Telegram? Subscribe to our channel for updates and exclusive video.

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