American officials said that M1 Abrams Tanks will arrive in Ukraine within days before the end of the ongoing counteroffensive. The American main battle tanks will hit the battlefield nearly eight months after Biden gave the authorization.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said the tanks would arrive “soon” during a meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany on Tuesday. “I’m… pleased to announce that the M1 Abrams tanks that the United States had previously committed to will be entering Ukraine soon,” he stated.
The Washington Post spoke with an unnamed American official who clarified that the Abrams Tanks would arrive within days. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley recently explained that Kiev only had about a month before the weather would force it to halt its offensive military operations.
Gen. Milley said Kiev would push the counteroffensive in the coming days, even as Western governments assess Ukraine will fail to achieve its goals. “For the critics that are out there, I would say that there’s plenty of fighting weather left, there’s plenty of combat power remaining, and the Ukrainians have absolutely no intent to stop,” he stated.
The tanks will be armed with depleted uranium (DU) rounds. DU is controversial as the shells are toxic and have long-lasting environmental and health consequences. Still, Austin claimed that the tanks would add to Ukraine’s long-term security. “Our shared commitment will be vital during the current battles – and for the long road ahead,” he said.
In January, President Joe Biden authorized sending 31 M1 Abrams Tanks to Ukraine in a coalition with the UK, Germany and other European countries. In comparison, the German Leopard and British Challenger tanks were delivered to Ukraine by June, when Kiev’s counteroffensive was launched.
The Leopard and Challenger tanks suffered losses in the early days of the Ukrainian operations, but Washington has lagged behind its allies in shipping modern main battle armor to Kiev. The Ukrainian counteroffensive failed to achieve its goals thus far and has sustained heavy losses.
Austin explained that Ukraine has far more pressing needs than tanks, mainly air defenses and 155MM artillery rounds. After 18 months of war, Kiev continues to use more 155MM shells than its Western backers can produce. The Pentagon currently estimates it will be able to produce over 1 million rounds per year in 2025, but that is about half of Russia’s current output. Additionally, rising prices are causing further supply issues.
The ammunition production issues come as Western officials admit that Ukraine and Russia are now locked in a long war of attrition. The White House has pledged to give Kiev everything it needs to achieve its ambitious war goals, but it’s unclear if the West can continue to arm the Ukrainian military.
At the Defense Contact Group meeting, Austin called on allies to dig deep into their own arms depots for Ukraine. “So at today’s meeting, I urged allies and partners to dig deep and donate whatever air defense munitions they can as Ukraine heads into another winter of war,” he said.