U.S. officials on Tuesday said the military was poised to approve sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, an apparent reversal of an earlier decision.
Officials said the details were still being worked out, but the announcement to send tanks to Ukraine could be made as early as Wednesday as part of an upcoming Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative Package.
Last week, the U.S. had finalized a roughly $2.5 billion security aid package to Ukraine that reportedly included Stryker combat vehicles, as well as more armored Bradley Fighting Vehicles, but the Biden Administration had pushed back against sending M1 Abrams tanks because of logistical and maintenance complications.
An announcement is reportedly expected to come in coordination with an announcement by Germany, which has also been digging in its heels, saying last week it would not send its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine unless the U.S. also agreed to send the M1 Abrams tanks.
The announcement also follows a request by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who asked Berlin to allow Poland to send its own German Leopord 2 tanks to Ukraine. As Leopard 2s are made in Germany, Berlin must approve their export from one country to another.
There has not been an exact number reported yet, but one U.S. official said the military would commit to sending between 30 and 50 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, which would include the U.S. arranging for the contracting of the tanks with their manufacturer. That could mean the new tanks would not be field-ready for quite some time—possibly more than a year.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on Sunday urged sending M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine to pressure the Germans and to aid in the now 11-month-long war against Russia.
“There’s gonna be a winter offensive by the Russians,” he said. “They need these tanks on the eastern flank in the Donbas” where Ukraine has already been facing intense fighting.