U.S. President Joe Biden announced the decision to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine during a news briefing on Jan. 25.
It is the equivalent of “one Ukrainian battalion,” Biden said. Training of Ukrainian soldiers will begin “as soon as possible,” he said, adding the delivery of the tanks could “take time.”
Ukraine’s request for tanks and long-range missiles has been front and center of Kyiv’s diplomatic requests over the last months amid a potential new Russian offensive.
On Jan. 22, U.S. lawmakers called for giving Ukraine Abrams tanks to push Germany to authorize the delivery of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine.
There have been media reports that Germany would allow the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine if the U.S. supplied Abrams tanks to Kyiv. However, the German government has denied making such a demand.
Germany confirmed on Jan. 25 that it would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other countries, such as Poland, to send their own Leopards to Kyiv.
The long-awaited tanks will be delivered from the stocks of the German army, Chancellor Olaf Scholz told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.
“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability,” Scholz said, as quoted by Bloomberg. “We are acting in a way that is closely agreed and coordinated internationally.”
Previously the German government had been reluctant to approve Leopard 2 deliveries but eventually succumbed under pressure from the media and allies.