US Abrams tanks delivered to Ukraine will be destroyed: Antonov
Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov vows that the Russian military will destroy the "provocative" US equipment delivered to Ukraine.
Following reports on the supply of Abrams tanks to Ukraine by Washington, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday that the delivery will become another "blatant provocation" against Russia and warned that the Russian military would destroy the equipment.
Earlier on Tuesday, US media reported that US President Joe Biden is set to announce the delivery of 30-50 Abrams tanks to Ukraine as soon as Wednesday.
According to Antonov, a decision to transfer to Kiev M1 Abrams is made, and American tanks "without any doubt" will be destroyed along with "all other samples of NATO military equipment."
"If the United States decides to supply tanks, it will be impossible to justify such step using arguments about 'defensive weapons.' This would be another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation. No one should have illusions about who is the real aggressor in the current conflict," he said in a statement.
The ambassador added that the US is trying to inflict strategic defeat on Russia and "gives 'green light' to use of American assistance for attacks on the Crimea."
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The Russian official stressed that a growing number of officials and experts in America admit: it is all about US 'proxy-war' with Russia, adding that "the Americans are constantly raising the 'bar' of military assistance to their puppet government," which he believes the Russian military proves when it records new victories.
This comes after US President Joe Biden's administration planned to announce the delivery of a “significant number” of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing US officials familiar with the matter.
The newspaper pointed out that the possible announcement would be part of a broader deal with Germany, which just announced its approval to supply a small number of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine as well.
According to The Wall Street Journal, such a development could help mend the rift in NATO regarding the delivery of the Leopard 2 tanks to support Ukraine in the war.
'US fear escalation'
In an earlier report, European officials announced that the US is hesitant to provide even a minimal force of Abrams tanks to Kiev due to fears about escalation, The Financial Times reported.
The UK, Poland, and Finland had said that they would try to persuade Germany to supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks on Friday, and even said that the US was unlikely to supply Ukraine with Abrams tanks.
German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a conversation with US President Joe Biden last week that his country would equip Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks on the condition that Washington also deliver Abrams tanks.
That said, Berlin later agreed to send at least a company of Leopard 2A6 battle tanks to Ukraine, German news outlet Der Spiegel reported yesterday.
The news site said the tanks will be provided from the German military's [Bundeswehr] stocks.
According to the report, the federal government also allowed the export of the German-made tanks owned by other countries, including Poland, to Ukraine.