The United States announced that it will “soon” deliver Abrams tanks to Ukraine

M1A2 Abrams tank in NATO exercises (Europa Press) (Europa Press/Contact/US Army/)

Ukraine will receive M1 Abrams tanks “soon” of the United States as kyiv forces advance in a counteroffensive against Moscow troops, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday.

Washington had promised the tanks to kyiv earlier this year, part of more than $43 billion in security aid offered by the United States since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

“I am delighted to announce that the M1 Abrams tanks that the United States had previously committed They will enter Ukraine soon“Austin told his allies at the opening of the Ukrainian Defense Contact Group in Germany.

The tanks will go equipped with 120 mm armor-piercing depleted uranium projectilesannounced earlier this month.

This type of ammunition is controversial due to its association with health problems, such as cancer and congenital malformations, in areas where it was used in past conflicts, although it has not been definitively proven to have caused such problems.

A Pentagon official stated that The 31 promised tanks have already arrived in Europe and will begin to cross the border with Ukraine in the coming days. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the exact location of the tanks is sensitive.

An M1A1 Abrams tank during a demonstration in Mississippi (via AP, File)
An M1A1 Abrams tank during a demonstration in Mississippi (via AP, File) (Courtland Wells/)

Ukrainian troops began training with similar tanks in June, while those soon to arrive were being overhauled in the United States.

Ukraine is fighting Russian troops in a slow counteroffensive it launched in June that has run into strong defenses.

Austin stated that the counteroffensive “continues to advance steadily,” adding that “brave Ukrainian troops are breaking through the heavily fortified lines of the Russian aggression army”.

Austin also urged allied defense leaders to “go deeper” and provide more air defense systems to Ukraine, to help the country block increasing barrages of Russian missiles. But while the allies said they will discuss how they can best help Ukraine’s counteroffensive, they appeared no closer to committing to the longer-range missiles that Kiev’s leaders insist they need.

“Air defense is saving lives,” Austin said at the summit. “So I urge this group to continue to deepen ground air defense for Ukraine. We must continue to push to provide Ukraine with air defense systems and interceptors.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and new Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Contact Group meeting (via Reuters)
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the new Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov at the Contact Group meeting (via Reuters) (RITZAU SCANPIX/)

The Contact Group is made up of the military and defense leaders of more than 50 nations and is the main forum for raising contributions of weapons, other equipment and training for kyiv’s war effort. It meets approximately once a month, in person and virtually, and this is the 15th meeting.

President Volodimir Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly pushed for long-range weapons. Proponents argue that Ukrainian forces need to be able to attack Russian troops and facilities while staying out of their reach.

But the United States has remained reticent, expressing its Concern that kyiv could use weapons to attack on Russian territory and anger Moscow. The Army’s Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, could give Ukraine the ability to strike Russian targets from up to 180 miles (300 kilometers) away, but the United States also has other variants of the missile that have shorter ranges.

The American defense official also welcomed the new Ukrainian Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, appointed earlier this month in a significant change for kyiv, following corruption scandals in the ministry. A senior US defense official stated before the meeting that the meeting was an opportunity “to hear from Minister Umerov himself what his vision is, what his priority is.”

U.S. officials have led the charge for international support for Ukraine, quickly forging a coalition to back Kiev in the wake of the Russian invasion and coordinating aid from dozens of countries through nearly monthly Contact Group meetings.

Ukraine’s supporters have also provided training to kyiv’s troops, while the United States and other countries have imposed tough sanctions on Russia.

Targets of the sanctions include financial institutions, technology imports and energy exports.

(With information from AFP and AP)