Posted by on January 25, 2023 3:47 pm
Categories: News Washington Examiner

Biden team says ‘conditions on the ground’ drove tanks reversal from last week

At a climate change meeting, Vice President Joe Biden admits there is no proof global warming causes fires. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik

Biden team says ‘conditions on the ground’ drove tanks reversal from last week

Mike Brest January 25, 03:23 PMJanuary 25, 03:23 PM Video Embed

The Biden administration is citing changes on the battlefield as the reason for reversing course on providing Ukraine with top-end tanks.

President Joe Biden said on Wednesday the administration will give Ukraine 31 M1 Abrams tanks, the equivalent of one Ukrainian tank battalion, even as Department of Defense officials said last week that it wouldn’t make sense to give them to Kyiv given the significant logistical and maintenance requirements. One factor in the administration’s about-face is that by providing tanks to Ukraine, Germany has opted to reverse its decision and will send its Leopard tanks to Ukraine.


“We never ruled tanks out,” National Security Council coordinator John Kirby told reporters. “We have been, from the beginning of this war now 11 months ago, have been evolving the capabilities we’re providing with Ukraine, with the conditions on the ground. And so, to get to your specific question, what’s changed? What’s changed, Kristin, are the conditions on the ground and the kinds of fighting that the Russians are doing right now, and the kinds of fighting, more importantly, that we believe the Ukrainians are going to need to be capable of in the weeks and months ahead, well into 2023.”

He also said that the president agreed to send the tanks “in the last several days,” though the conversations had been ongoing for “weeks of discussions and conversations” with allies.

Hours earlier, Biden described the Abrams tanks as “the most capable tanks in the world,” adding that “they’re also extremely complex to operate and maintain.”

The Leopard tanks, which roughly a dozen other European countries also have, will reach the battlefield long before the Abrams tanks, which will take months. The U.S. will, however, begin to train Ukrainian military members on the “issues of sustainment, logistics, and maintenance as soon as possible,” the president added.

Those very issues, DOD officials said, are why it didn’t make sense to send the Abrams tanks to Ukraine.


“The Abrams are — it’s more of a sustainment issue. I mean, this is a tank that requires jet fuel, whereas the Leopard and the Challenger, it’s a different engine. They require diesel. It’s a little bit easier to maintain. They can maneuver across large portions of territory before they need to refuel. The maintenance and the high cost that it would take to maintain an Abrams. It just doesn’t make sense to provide that to the Ukrainians at this moment,” deputy Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh told reporters last Thursday.

A senior military official said on Tuesday that the Pentagon’s “focus has been on providing capabilities to the Ukrainians that they can use right now, right, that are going to have an impact,” describing the Abrams tanks as an “extremely capable and effective fighting system, but it’s also a very complex system that requires a lot of maintenance.”

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