The U.S. has said it will send Ukraine 31 Abrams heavy tanks, just hours after Germany gave the go-ahead for deliveries of Leopard 2 vehicles.

Addressing the American people from the White House on Wednesday evening, President Joe Biden said the move was “to enhance Ukraine’s ability to defend its territory and achieve its strategic objectives” in its fight against Russia.

Earlier on Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz finally caved to pressure from Kyiv and its international allies to send Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, opening the way for other countries in possession of the German-made vehicles to do the same.

Though the exact numbers are not yet known, a number of countries including Poland, Spain, Finland, Norway and Portugal could be able to provide Ukraine somewhere in the region of 110 Leopard tanks.


On the streets of Kyiv on Wednesday, the news was met with a mixture of relief that heavy tanks were on their way, frustration that the decisions had taken so long and concern that the actual numbers being sent were enough to make a difference on the battlefield.

Eighteen-year-old Oleksandr told Kyiv Post he was “grateful” to Germany and was happy they “didn't drag it out even longer”, but added: “These tanks alone are not enough.”

His sentiments were echoed by 42-year-old Inna who said she was “angry about Germany”, adding: “It took them too long to decide."

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After months of partisan infighting, the United States House of Representatives finally approved the major package in a vote Saturday, giving a morale boost to Ukrainian forces.

“Tanks, of course, will help in some way and will make their contribution, but much more is needed.”

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky has been more diplomatic in his responses and thanked his German counterpart Olaf Scholz for the "important and timely" decision to allow the long-sought delivery of its powerful Leopard 2s.

Later in the day in response to Biden's anoouncement, Zelensky praised the "powerful" decision, adding: "It's an important step on the path to victory."

While today’s announcements are significant and come after months of requests from Kyiv for heavy fighting vehicles, Ukrainian crews still need to be trained on how to use the Abrams and Leopards and they still have to be shipped to where they’re needed on the front lines.


Speculation in military media seems to agree it will take at least two months to train a single Ukrainian crew, and if the task is training dozens or hundreds of crews, the process will be slower.

Most likely, the Ukrainian army will be unable to operate any Leopard 2 tanks at all before late spring, with numbers of tanks in the field rising gradually after that. Unlike the German tanks, however, the M1 Abrams will be procured with Ukraine assistance funding rather than directly drawn from existing US stocks, meaning they will not arrive on the battlefield for months.

The latest news comes at a crucial stage in the conflict, with spring offensives expected from both sides and signs that the Kremlin is planning for a long and drawn-out war.

Forty-nine-year-old Andriy, told Kyiv Post: “I don't know if these tanks will help win the war. We need a lot more tanks than 100-150. But these 150 are not bad either.


"And it is a precedent in general - we will be able to test their effectiveness on the battlefield. If they are so, then let us ask for more.

“If not, then let us ask for something else.”

A recent International Institute for Strategic Studies analysis concluded that if Kyiv was to receive about 100 such tanks, the effect could be "significant".

Moscow has responded in predicatbel fashion to the announcements, with Russia's ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, warning without a hint of irony that a US approval for Abrams deliveries would be "another blatant provocation against the Russian Federation."

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