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NYT: About 400 Ukrainian soldiers begin training on Abrams tanks in Germany

by Asami Terajima May 27, 2023 3:16 PM 2 min read
An American soldier stands on an American battle tank of the latest type Abrams M1A2 SEP v3 during the U.S. Army media day in Hohenfels, Germany, on May 11, 2023. (Photo: Daniel Löb/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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About 400 Ukrainian soldiers began training on American M1 Abrams tanks in Germany on May 26, the New York Times reported, as Ukraine readies itself for a much-anticipated counteroffensive.

The May 27 report, citing Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Garron Garn, said that the first group of Ukrainian soldiers began training focused on "how to operate and maintain American M1 Abrams," known to be the most advanced battle tank worldwide.  

Half of the group started training in Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels in southern Germany, and their training – which the military labels as combined arms instruction – includes shooting firearms and learning medical skills, eventually growing into larger exercises where battalion-sized groups face off one another, according to the New York Times.

The rest of the group, the New York Times said, learned about the maintenance of the tanks and how to fuel them.

The deployment of Abrams tanks to the battlefield is expected to give Ukraine a major equipment advantage over Russia – which to this day relies on Soviet-era tanks.

Earlier, it was unclear when the Ukrainian training on Abrams would begin. For a while, after U.S. President Joe Biden vowed to supply 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine – which came in parallel with Germany's much-awaited approval on the transfer of Leopard 2 tanks, Washington remained hesitant on the timeframe of the training. Initially, the U.S. had said the promised Abrams wouldn't be sent to Ukraine until 2024.

In a move overturning the initial U.S. position on the Abrams, Washington officials had said on April 21 that Ukrainian troops would start to receive Abrams tank training "in the coming weeks," the Associated Press reported on April 21.

The AP had reported then that 31 older M1A1 tank models would be sent to Germany by the end of May for the training course, which is set to begin "a couple of weeks" after the delivery. It added that the training is set to last for a total of 10 weeks before the tanks are sent to the front line.

The U.S., two months after Biden greenlighted the transfer of Abrams to Ukraine, confirmed that it would supply Ukraine with 31 M1-A1 Abrams tanks instead of the newer M1-A2 version it had pledged before to speed up the delivery.

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