The White House would have agreed to deliver the Abrams to Ukraine to protect the German Chancellor
The United States has devised a plan to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to provide “cover” for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who was reluctant to send the country’s tanks to help kyiv, the Washington Post reported on Saturday, citing more than a dozen people familiar with the matter.
Rely on sources “on both sides of the Atlantic” the report details how the White House struggled to convince Scholz who initially resisted delivering the Leopard 2 tanks to fight Russian forces in Ukraine unless the United States agreed to commit the Abrams. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Pentagon have reportedly opposed sending US main battle tanks which they say would be too difficult for the Ukrainians to operate and maintain.
According to the Post, it was Secretary of State Antony Blinken who offered to announce a commitment to supply the tanks to Kyiv, but at some point in the future, as part of “’long-term’ needs in a war that could last for years.”
This could provide Scholz with the cover he was looking for to allow the Leopards to move on immediately. At the same time, it would give the Pentagon…time to address concerns about training Ukrainian forces on how to use them and putting in place the necessary logistics.
Germany announced on Wednesday that it would supply 14 tanks directly from its military stocks. Scholz later announced that Berlin and other European countries would jointly send 112 Leopards to fight in Ukraine.
READ MORE: Pentagon pushes for F-16s in Ukraine – Politico
Meanwhile, the 31 Abrams tanks planned for kyiv must first be assembled. According to Politico, since Washington is sourcing the tanks from the manufacturer, it could take “many months, even years” for them to roll across the battlefield.
Russia has maintained that foreign weapons, including heavy tanks such as the Abrams, will not change the course of the conflict. “As we’ve said in the past, these tanks will burn like any other. They are just expensive [to make]”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.