Here’s what we know from The New York Times.
The announcement, expected as early as Wednesday, comes as Germany appears close to sending Leopard 2 tanks, opening the way for other countries in Europe.
WASHINGTON — Reversing its longstanding resistance, the Biden administration plans to send M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, in what would be a major step in arming Kyiv in its efforts to seize back its territory from Russia.
The White House is expected to announce a decision as early as Wednesday, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the discussions. One official said the number of Abrams tanks could be about 30.
Over the past month, Pentagon officials had expressed misgivings about sending the Abrams, citing concerns about how Ukraine would maintain the advanced tanks, which require extensive training and servicing. And officials said it could take years for them to actually reach any Ukrainian battlefields.
But Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has now come around to the view that committing to sending American tanks is necessary to spur Germany to follow with its coveted Leopard 2 tanks. Officials at the State Department and the White House argued that giving Germany the political cover it sought to send its own tanks outweighed the Defense Department reluctance, the officials said.
The movement toward sending the Abrams tanks, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, follows a testy confrontation last week during a NATO defense chiefs meeting over the refusal by Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, to send the Leopards, which many military experts believe could be a critical weapon in Ukrainian hands.
German officials privately insisted that they would send the tanks, among the most advanced in the world, only if the United States agreed to send its own M1 Abrams tanks.
Anticipation for a German announcement was high, as various German news outlets reported on Tuesday that Mr. Scholz had decided to send the tanks. Much of the attention focused on an expected address by the chancellor to Parliament on Wednesday.
Many European countries use German-built Leopards, which number about 2,000 across the continent, and Ukraine has pleaded for tanks in recent weeks, describing them as necessary to counter Russia’s advantages in arms and men.
Western tanks are the latest barrier to fall as Ukraine’s allies supply it with weapons systems they had previously resisted sending; earlier this month, while debates over the Leopard and the Abrams wore on, Britain said it would give some of its Challenger 2 tanks.
On Tuesday, Poland’s defense minister said his country had formally requested Germany’s permission to send Ukraine Leopard tanks from its own stocks, and other countries have indicated they would do the same if Germany agreed.
In Kyiv on Tuesday, Finland’s president, Sauli Niinisto, told reporters at a news conference that he had discussed the supply of Western tanks to Ukraine with President Zelensky, saying the country was considering various options for its participation.
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Abrams tanks at a military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, in 2021. Credit...Ints Kalnins/Reuters