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The Pentagon hopes to bring new momentum to the battlefield for the Ukrainian army but does not give Abrams tanks

A German PzH43 self-propelled howitzer from the 2000 heavy artillery brigade of the Ukrainian Army. (11 January 2023)
A German PzH43 self-propelled howitzer from the 2000 heavy artillery brigade of the Ukrainian Army. (11 January 2023)

Colin Kahl, the U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, said Wednesday (Jan. 18) that the United States is seeking to help Ukraine break the current near-frozen front-line attrition stalemate with newly announced military capabilities, hoping that these aids will inject new momentum into Kiev’s battle against the Russian army.

However, the senior defense official said the Pentagon was not ready to respond to Kiev’s call to provide the Ukrainian army with the M1 Abrams main battle tank, which consumes a lot of gas.

Profile photo: American M1 Abrams tank participating in NATO exercises in Latvia. (18 January 2016)
Profile photo: American M1 Abrams tank participating in NATO exercises in Latvia. (18 January 2016)

“I don’t think we’re ready that at all,” said Carr, who had just returned from a trip to Ukraine. “Abrams tanks are very complex equipment. It is expensive and difficult to train. It has a jet engine. ”

Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee of the US Congress, and Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a joint statement on the same day, urging the Biden administration and other US allies to provide Ukraine with the vital weapons and equipment needed to defeat the Russian aggressor army. The statement said the Biden administration’s hesitation in providing weapons will make the war prolong longer, and urged the U.S. administration and the German government to follow the actions of Britain and some eastern allies and immediately supply Ukraine with Leopard 2 tanks, the army’s tactical missile system ATACMS, and other long-range precision strike ammunition.

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The joint statement made no mention of the M1 Abrams main battle tank.

Carr’s comments come as top defense officials from dozens of countries meet this week at the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany, to coordinate military aid to Ukraine.

The United States has pledged about $24 billion in aid to help Ukraine resist the Russian military, including a $3.5 billion military aid package announced this month that includes Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, self-propelled howitzers, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles, and ammunition.

Profile photo: U.S. Army soldiers and Stryker combat vehicles in Fairsek, Germany. (9 February 2022)
Profile photo: U.S. Army soldiers and Stryker combat vehicles in Fairsek, Germany. (9 February 2022)

U.S. officials, who requested anonymous comment, said President Joe Biden’s administration is next expected to approve the supply of Stryker armored vehicles to Ukraine.

Many parties have been putting pressure on Germany to provide Leopard main battle tanks to Ukraine, or at least approve the transfer of these German-made tanks to Ukraine by third countries.

But Germany seems to want to tie the decision to approve the supply of Panther tanks with the US decision on Abrams.

A German government source told Reuters that if the United States agreed to supply its tanks to Ukraine, Germany would allow German-made tanks to be sent to Ukraine to help resist Russia.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to meet Germany’s new defense minister, Boris Pistorius, in Berlin on Thursday.

Profile photo: German servicemen drive a Leopard 2 tank at a training area in Kassel, Hesse. (12 August 2009)
Profile photo: German servicemen drive a Leopard 2 tank at a training area in Kassel, Hesse. (12 August 2009)

Carr did not confirm Germany’s offer of Panther tanks, but referred to Britain’s commitment to send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine, saying: “I don’t think it should be a concern if there is a concern about providing this capability alone.” ”

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“But in the end, the German government will make a sovereign decision,” the U.S. defense official said. ”

Carr also praised Germany’s contribution so far.

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, he said: “I think we should be very commendable for Germany’s generosity to Ukraine so far.” ”

Since Ukraine recovered large areas of lost territory in Wudong and Unan in the second half of 2022, the situation on the Ukrainian front has now become difficult. Carr described the frontline fighting as brutal, a World War I-style engagement, a block-by-block advance.

“We’re actually focused on getting those capabilities in Ukraine to surge and deal with the next phase of the conflict, really trying to change that momentum and keep the momentum that Ukraine had last summer and early fall,” Carr said. He expressed views similar to those made in Washington by British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Carr said the U.S. supply of Bradley vehicles to Ukraine, along with weapons training and other new weapons, is intended to give Kiev “the ability to fire and operate with more mechanized forces” that could change the posture of static defenses.

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