President Joe Biden announced today that the United States will provide Ukraine with 31 M1 Abrams tanks. That is the required number to equip an entire Ukraine tank battalion.
These tanks are needed, Biden said, because Ukrainian forces are working to defend the territory they hold and will be better prepared for additional counter-offenses.
"They need to be able to counter Russia's evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term. They need to improve their ability to maneuver in open terrain. And, they need an enduring capability to deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long term," the president said.
The Abrams tanks are the most capable tanks in the world. And, they're also extremely complex to operate and maintain. Along with the tanks, the U.S. will be giving Ukraine the parts and equipment necessary to effectively repair and maintain these tanks on the battlefield, he said.
Ukrainian troops will be given training on logistics and maintenance as soon as possible, as actual delivery of these tanks will take some time, he said.
This morning, Biden said he had a long conversation with NATO allies, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni regarding continued close coordination and support of Ukraine.
Biden mentioned strong allied support for Ukraine, which will include German Leopard 2 tanks, a German Patriot missile battery, Challenger 2 tanks from the United Kingdom, and AMX-10 armored fighting vehicles from France.
"This is about helping Ukraine defend and protect Ukrainian land. It is not an offensive threat to Russia," he said.
"The expectation on the part of Russia is we're going to break up, we're not going to stay united. But we are fully thoroughly totally united," Biden said, speaking of the 50 nations that are part of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Senior administration officials said earlier today that these Abrams tanks will be procured through Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative funding.
Unlike the presidential drawdown authority, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DOD stocks.
The officials also noted that eight M88 recovery vehicles will also be shipped to Ukraine, to accompany the 31 tanks.