Ukraine's spy chief on US Abrams delivery: Haven't seen them yet
The head of Ukraine's intelligence says that the US-made main battle tank will not be able to survive for long on the front lines and must be used in a very "tailored" way.
Abrams tanks provided by the United States will not survive for long if deployed on the front lines, while the limited quantity of Army Tactical Missile Systems ATACMS missiles supplied are unlikely to be a game changer, Ukraine's military intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, told The War Zone news site on Friday.
According to the report, Budanov reached out to the site asking if they would like an interview while he was in Washington DC on a visit alongside President Volodymyr Zelensky.
In January, Washington revealed that it would be sending 31 of its M1 Abrams main battle tank to Ukraine within a few months.
Earlier this week, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the United States will "soon" deliver the M1 Abrams tanks to its ally to fulfill its commitment to support Kiev's war efforts.
"They should be used in a very tailored way for very specific, well-crafted operations because if they are used at the front line and just in a combined arms fight, they will not live very long on the battlefield. They need to be used in those breakthrough operations, but very well-prepared," Budanov said in the interview.
But when asked about the delivery of the Abrams to Ukraine and their effectiveness in the course of the battle given the full utilization of other hardware in the war, Budanov said that Kiev is "looking forward to seeing that," but "We haven't seen them yet."
US broadcaster NBC News reported on Friday that Washington has approved supplying Kiev with ATACMS. However, no official statement by the White House has been made.
Asked about the news during a press briefing in Washington, Zelensky declined to comment but noted that the US is Kiev's largest weapons provider.
"We are discussing all the different types of weapons – long-range weapons and artillery, artillery shells with the caliber of 155mm, then air defense systems," he told reporters.
According to the spy chief, these missiles - which have a range of 306km (190 miles) - would help them strike sensitive targets deep within Russian territory, including airfields and command centers.
Nevertheless, Budanov added that a small number of ATACMS missiles "won’t change the situation," as the country needs "at least hundreds" for them to be effective in the war.
Russia earlier warned that such a move would be regarded as crossing a "red line" and that the US would be viewed as "a party to the conflict" in Ukraine in the event that it moves forward with sending these types of missiles to Kiev.
According to a report by Defense News published last week, heavy European tanks and armored vehicles have struggled in the mud and with fuel shortages in Ukraine. They have also been vulnerable to enemy fire. The German-made Leopard tank, which was considered superior to the Abrams tank, has not performed well.
The failure of the Leopard tank in Ukraine raises concerns that the Abrams tank could also be vulnerable to Russian attacks, the report noted, adding that neither the Abrams tank nor the Leopard tank is equipped with active protection systems or reactive armor.