The United States will send 31 powerful battle tanks to Ukraine, joining Germany in supporting the fight against Russia’s invasion.
The decision to deliver the M1 Abrams tanks came just hours after Germany announced the deployment of 14 Leopard 2 tanks to the battlefield.
Berlin also cleared the way for other European countries to send their own German-made tanks.
Ukraine has been pleading with Western allies for months to send the military equipment.
It hailed the twin announcements as a watershed moment, allowing its military to regain momentum and retake occupied territory nearly a year after Moscow invaded. It also stated that the tanks could be used to deter a possible Russian offensive in the spring.
“A significant step toward victory,” Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said. “Today, the free world is more united than ever before in pursuit of a common goal: the liberation of Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Russia condemned the moves as a “blatant provocation” and said any tanks supplied would be destroyed. “These tanks, like the rest, burn. They are simply prohibitively expensive “According to President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman.
“Putin expected Europe and the United States to weaken our resolve,” President Joe Biden said in a White House announcement on Wednesday. “He was wrong from the start, and he is still wrong.”
“We’re also providing Ukraine with the parts and equipment they need to effectively sustain these tanks in battle,” he said. “This is about assisting Ukraine in defending and protecting its territory. It is not a direct threat to Russia.”
According to Mr. Biden, a Ukrainian tank battalion typically consists of 31 tanks, which is why that number has been agreed upon.
The US decision, however, represents a shift in policy, as the Biden administration had previously stated that the heavy M1 Abrams tanks would be difficult to deliver, expensive to maintain, and difficult for Ukrainian troops to operate.