Emmanuel Son, Staff Writer
On January 25, it was announced that the United States would be sending 31 Abrams Tanks to Ukraine in an effort to combat Russian forces in its ongoing war. NBC News reports that the U.S. will also provide training and supplies to operate the tanks according to President Biden. In a statement, the president said that sending tanks to Ukraine will “enhance Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives.” Biden has also described the tanks as the most capable in the world. The president also holds the opinion that the decision to send over tanks is to protect Ukrainian land and not to be a threat toward Russia. Senior Officials in the White House describe the announcement as a “continuation of our effort to provide Ukraine with the capabilities that they need to continue to better defend themselves,” an NBC News report says. Senior Officials also label the announcement as a keeping of a long-term commitment that the United States has to “Ukraine’s defense needs.”
Biden spoke with European officials on the matter. These calls with other officials included French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. A Downing Street spokesperson said the plan would be a way and a catalyst for other countries to follow suit. “The Prime Minister said it was now clear Russia was on the backfoot, and there was a window for international partners to accelerate efforts to secure lasting peace for Ukraine.” The day after President Biden made the announcement, Russia responded. Fox News reports Kremlin Moscow’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, responded by saying, “There are constant statements from European capitals and Washington that the sending of various weapons to Ukraine including Tanks in no way signifies the involvement of these countries or the alliance in hostels in Ukraine.
“We Categorically disagree with this and in Moscow, everything that the alliance and the capitals I mentioned are doing is seen as direct involvement in conflict. We see that this is growing” he told Reuters. Russian media has downplayed the decision saying that the tanks are “vulnerable” to Soviet-era weapons. A retired Russian general has described the tanks as “weakly suited” for how operations will play out in Ukraine.
The decision by Biden to send the tanks is a reversal from previous statements the administration had made. Pressure came from Germany to send over the tanks. U.S. officials previously stated that concerns over sending over tanks included the fact that many national security team members did not believe it was a good move. These team members included: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Staff Gen. Mike Milley. When asked what had influenced the change in decision, a senior official had mentioned trying to “do the best that we can to evolve the capabilities we are providing Ukraine with the war itself.” The President had mentioned in the announcement that Germany had not put pressure on him to send the tanks, saying, “Germany didn’t force me to change my mind. We wanted to make sure we were all in this together. That’s what we were going to do all along.”