Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday said the first of the promised U.S. Abrams battle tanks had arrived in Ukraine amid its 19-month-long war against Russia.
“Good news from Defense Minister [Rustem] Umerov. Abrams are already in Ukraine and are preparing to reinforce our brigades,” Zelensky announced on social media. “I am grateful to our allies for fulfilling the agreements! We are looking for new contracts and expanding the geography of supply.”
In January President Biden had announced that some 31 M1 Abrams tanks would be sent to Ukraine. The Administration arranged for the contracting of the tanks with their manufacturer, noting that getting them battle-ready would likely take up to a year.
Ukrainian crews will next have to be trained in operating the Abrams tanks now that they’ve arrived in the country.
In his social media post in which he outlined a “daily synchronization on key security issues,” Zelensky listed the arrival of the tanks among several areas of progress, adding, “We are moving forward.”
The Pentagon, meanwhile, has said that by having the Abrams tanks among their arsenal, the Ukrainian army “can more effectively discourage aggressive actions.” A Defense Department spokesperson told The Hill, “We will continue to focus on what we can do to help Ukraine succeed on the battlefield and protect its people.”
The Abrams tanks arrived as the Biden Administration is awaiting word from Congress—bogged down in negotiations to avoid a government shutdown—on a requested $24 billion supplemental that includes military, humanitarian and financial assistance for Ukraine.
The Pentagon said last week that its Ukraine operations would be exempt from any government shutdown, should Congress fail to agree on a federal budget by the September 30 midnight deadline. That would include training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, which is set to begin at a U.S. base in Arizona soon.