Russian attack on Odesa kills 2: Ukraine war live updates

A U.S.-built Abrams tank during a military training exercise in Nannisalu, Finland, in…Antti Aimo-Koivisto/Lehtikuva, via Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

Two U.S. defense officials said the first U.S.-made Abrams tanks have been delivered to Ukraine, months ahead of initial estimates, and will be used in Kiev’s retaliation against Russian forces.

More M1 Abrams tanks will be sent in the coming months, officials said, noting that Saturday’s shipment to Ukraine represents the first of 31 the Biden administration has promised to send. Officials did not say how many people have been transported so far.

The Abrams will be among other tanks in Ukraine’s arsenal that it could use to push into and possibly retake Russian-held territory in eastern and southern Ukraine, where fighting has been going on for months without major gains. to be continued. But the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, Kyrillo Budanov, warned that the Abrams would need to be deployed “very appropriately, for very specific, well-prepared operations,” or risk being destroyed.

If they are sent to the front lines just to try to punch through Russian defenses, General Budanov said in an interview with a US military blog last week, “They will not survive very long on the battlefield. They need to be used in these breakthrough operations, but very well prepared.

The two U.S. officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the shipment had not been formally announced. Ukrainian officials declined to comment.

Both President Biden and the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, predicted last week that the tanks would be sent within days. Their arrival represents part of an unusual effort by Western allies – responding to continued pressure from Ukraine – to deliver a powerful weapon months ahead of schedule.

Just a year ago, allies resisted sending Western-made tanks to Ukraine, fearing that doing so would draw NATO directly into the war and exacerbate tensions with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. will

By January, however, convinced that Ukraine needed more heavily armored vehicles to counter Russian forces, Britain, Germany and the United States each offered to supply modern Western tanks or allow them to be transferred to Kiev. Agreed to give. At the time, experts predicted that it could take at least a year to train Ukrainian forces on the latest Western weapons.

U.S. troops began training Ukrainian forces in late spring, taking a short 12-week course to operate Abrams tanks at U.S. military bases in Germany.

The U.S. decision to donate Abrams tanks opened up the transfer from European countries of several dozen German-made Leopard tanks, another advanced Western weapon, which Berlin was unwilling to allow without a similar commitment from the United States. Britain took delivery of at least 14 of its Challenger 2 tanks in the spring.

Austrian Colonel Markus Reisner, who is closely monitoring the war at Austria’s central military training academy, said Ukraine has said it needs at least 300 Western tanks to retaliate, but has yet to receive any. Only half the number has been found.

In comparison, officials estimate that Russia is producing about 200 tanks per year.

Continuous Méheut Cooperation reporting.

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