Washington — President Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. will send 31 top-of-the-lineto Ukraine, delivering on a key request from Kyiv that will provide a major boost to Ukrainian firepower over the coming months.
“Today, I’m announcing that the United States will be sending 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, the equivalent of one Ukrainian battalion,” Mr. Biden said at the White House, flanked by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. The security package is worth roughly $400 million, the Pentagon said.
The move comes after Germany said it would14 of its own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow Western partners to re-export their own, a move that Mr. Biden praised. France, the U.K., Finland, the Netherlands and other nations are also sending key security assistance, Mr. Biden noted, emphasizing that the United States’ move is part of a concerted effort by Western allies.
“Today’s announcement builds on the hard work and commitment from countries around the world, led by the United States of America, to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity,” Mr. Biden said. “That’s what this is about, helping Ukraine protect and defend Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia. There is no offensive threat to Russia. If Russian troops return to Russia … where they belong, this war would be over today.”
The delivery of the Abrams tanks will take several months, given the time needed to procure them and train Ukrainian troops on their use.
On a call with reporters previewing the president’s announcement, senior administration officials said the decision to provide the tanks is a “continuation of our effort to provide Ukraine with the capabilities that they need to continue to better defend themselves.” Mr. Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. Wednesday morning ahead of his remarks.
The M1 Abrams is the U.S. military’s main tank system and “the most capable tanks in the world,” Mr. Biden said. Ukrainian officials have been pleading with Western allies to provide them with tanks to bolster counter-offensives in the spring aimed at retaking areas held by dug-in Russian troops. The U.S. and more than 50 other countries…