The U.S. plans to announce a major new assistance package for Ukraine at a Friday meeting of Western defense ministers, notably absent of main battle tanks and long-range weapons as pressure mounts for the West to supply heavy weaponry, Politico reported, citing anonymous U.S. officials.
Although previous aid packages omitted some hard-hitting weapons and equipment over fears of potentially triggering Russian President Vladimir Putin to retaliate against North American Treaty Organization (NATO) members, hesitance to include the Army’s 60-ton M1 Abrams battle tank stems from concerns about logistics, one official told Politico. The formal announcement, which is expected at a regular NATO ministerial meeting in Germany on Friday, comes as the U.S. and Germany are facing increasing pressure from Ukraine and other allies to send tanks, Voice of America reported.
The United Kingdom said it would send 14 Challenger 2 tanks on Monday, according to VOA, a decision the U.S. supports, an official told Politico. The Biden administration has also helped facilitate the transfer of Soviet-made tanks from the Czech Republic to Ukraine.
“We believe the provision of modern tanks will significantly help and improve the Ukrainians’ ability to fight where they are fighting now and fight more effectively going forward,” National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Wednesday, according to Politico.
Friday’s package will probably include Strykers, an eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicle, weeks after the U.S. announced 50 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, the official told Politico.
The package could also include ground-launched Small Diameter Bombs, which have a range of 100 miles, two of the officials said, according to Politico. Reuters reported in November that the Pentagon was entertaining a Boeing proposal to produce the bombs, one of roughly half a dozen programs the U.S. is considering to sustain weapons transfers to Ukraine.
However, the people said the package will not include Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), weapons that Ukraine could use to strike Moscow, two of the people told Politico,
“The current handwringing and hesitation by the Biden administration and some of our European allies in providing critical weapon systems to Ukraine stinks of the weak policies of 2021,” House GOP Reps. Mike Rogers of Alabama and Michael McCaul of Texas, who chair the armed services and foreign affairs committees, respectively, said in a statement.
“While those policies failed to deter this conflict, the current indecision and self-deterrence will prolong it – costing Ukrainian lives,” they added.
Western countries are so worried about sending tanks to Ukraine, they’re arguing about what is and isn’t a “tank.” We offer our humble suggestion. pic.twitter.com/MNU50lw4O1
— Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) January 12, 2023
Germany said Wednesday it would not approve deliveries of Leopards from its own stocks or those of European allies unless the U.S. also agrees to supply American tanks, according to The Wall Street Journal. Other European governments have pledged to deliver German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine, but doing so requires prior approval from Berlin, the outlet reported.
“This is a pivotal moment in the war and the need for a significant increase in support for Ukraine,” NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The DOD and the National Security Council did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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