Joe Biden: US to send 31 tanks to Ukraine
President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he would send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to help it defend against Russian invaders, a decision meant to unlock a wave of heavier aid by western allies in preparation for an expected escalation of fighting in the spring.
Speaking at the White House after a morning of telephone calls to European allies, Biden said that the US would send 31 Abrams tanks, the equivalent of a Ukrainian battalion, and that Germany would follow through by contributing its own Leopard 2 tanks and freeing other allies to send their own, the equivalent of two more battalions.
“These tanks are further evidence of our enduring, unflagging commitment to Ukraine and our confidence in the skill of Ukrainian forces,” Biden said, flanked by Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin III. But he emphasised that the build-up was not meant to expand the war into Russia. “It is not an offensive threat to Russia,” he said.
“There is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia, where they belong, this war would be over today.”
The US had been cool to the idea of deploying the Abrams tanks but had to change tack in order to persuade Germany to send its more easily used Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
New York Times News Service