Biden explains why the US and its allies are sending tanks to Ukraine

The United States is joining its allies in sending tanks to Ukraine so the country can be even more successful in resisting Russian invaders, President Joe Biden said Wednesday.

The Biden administration will send 31 M1 Abrams tanks, the equivalent of a Ukrainian battalion, to Ukrainian forces, while Germany and other European states will send German-made Leopard 2 tanks. Britain also plans to supply Kyiv with its own Challenger 2 tanks, and France is contributing AMX-10 armored fighting vehicles. Together, the handovers represent a turning point in Western support for Ukraine and a sign of confidence in the Ukrainians’ ability to retake territory from Russian troops that invaded their country 11 months ago.

“The United States, standing shoulder to shoulder with allies and partners, will continue to do everything possible to support Ukraine,” Biden said in remarks Wednesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “hoped that Europe and the United States would weaken our resolve,” Biden continued. “He expected our support for Ukraine to collapse over time. He was wrong. He was wrong from the beginning and he continues to be wrong.

Ukrainian leaders say their army needs 300 tanks to support their war effort, taking advantage of Russian weakness before Moscow can re-equip its forces. The tanks, particularly the Abrams models, are advanced so it will likely take months for Ukrainian troops to learn how to field them.

“Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world, and they are also extremely complex to operate and maintain,” Biden said. “So we are also giving Ukraine the necessary parts and equipment to effectively sustain these tanks on the battlefield.”

In recent weeks, Germany has been reluctant to approve tank transfers to Ukraine, even from allies sending German equipment that needs Berlin’s permission to export them, citing fears of an escalation of the conflict. But earlier on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz acknowledged that he had heeded international criticism and the argument that without strong support for Ukraine now, an even worse escalation by Russia would be inevitable. Scholz said that Germany would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks.

Some US officials have been wary of sending Abrams tanks to Ukraine. But his colleagues who argued that the pledge was key to getting Germany to move won the internal Biden administration debate.

Biden rejected the idea that Germany “forced” him to change his mind about sending tanks, adding that “we want to make sure we’re all together.”

Biden still insists that the United States will not participate in the fighting in Ukraine with its own troops.

“Today’s announcement builds on the hard work and commitment of countries around the world, led by the United States of America, to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Biden said.

“That’s what this is all about, helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land,” he continued. “It is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia, they will be where they belong. This war would end today. That is what we all want, the end of this war.”

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