US may send 'significant number’ of Abrams tanks to Ukraine: WSJ
US officials say the US is considering sending approximately 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine in a broader deal with Germany.
US President Joe Biden's administration could announce as early as this week 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.
Germany also agreed to allow countries operating Leopard 2 tanks, notably Poland, to supply Ukraine with units of their own reserve, the report mentioned.
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.
The report noted that Berlin has repeatedly refused to allow countries possessing the tanks to provide them to Kiev under the terms of their export agreements.
Ukraine has requested at least 300 main battle tanks, considering them a game changer in the conflict with Russia.
Politico also reported on Tuesday, citing a US official, that the Biden administration is considering sending approximately 30 Abrams tanks to Ukraine that would likely be delivered through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which finances the purchase of weapons instead of taking them from existing US stocks.
Pentagon: Nothing to announce on Abrams tanks for Ukraine
On the other hand, Press Secretary Pat Ryder confirmed that the Pentagon is aware of media reports claiming that the US will announce the provision of Abrams tanks to Ukraine soon, but has nothing to announce at this time.
“I am aware of the press reporting stating that the US is considering providing Abrams tanks to Ukraine. I have no announcements to make at this time,” Ryder said during a press briefing.
The Press Secretary said Abrams tanks are complicated vehicles that require proper maintenance and sustainment, declining to comment on how training on the tanks would work should Washington decide to provide them to Kiev.
The decision has been made: Germany agrees to send Leopards to Kiev
Earlier, German news outlet Der Spiegel reported that Berlin has agreed to send at least a company of Leopard 2A6 battle tanks to Ukraine.
The news site said the tanks will be provided from the German military's [Bundeswehr] stocks.
According to the report, the federal government also allows the export of the German-made tanks to Ukraine owned by other countries, including Poland.
Other states, including some from Scandinavia, intend to follow in Germany's footsteps to provide Kiev with the Leopard 2 battle tanks.
In the medium to long term, more battle tanks from Bundeswehr stocks could be restored to become operational and be sent to Ukraine, the report highlighted.
Germany: No Leopard tanks to Kiev unless US agrees to send its Abrams
Last week, The Wall Street Journal cited a German senior official as saying that Berlin will not allow allies to send German-made tanks to Kiev unless Washington agrees to ship to Ukraine US-made tanks.
Berlin's government is currently divided on the matter, the newspaper revealed. Parties in Scholz's coalition, including the Free Democrats and the Green Party, are in favor of sending tanks to Kiev, while his left-leaning party, the Social Democrats, have been hesitant on the decision, especially since Washington is rejecting to send its Abrams main battle tanks.
In April last year, Scholz suggested that sending any Western tanks to Ukraine would increase the risk of a nuclear war between NATO and Russia.
Responding to a question during the World Economic Forum in Davos regarding his reluctance to send Leopard battle tanks to Ukraine, Scholz said he was worried that the war in Ukraine could become a global conflict.
“The Ukrainians can rely on our support in their courageous fight but it is also clear that we want to avoid this becoming a war between Russia and NATO,” the German Chancellor said.