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In an about-face on the provision of Western weapons for Ukraine, and despite warnings from Moscow of a serious escalation, Washington has agreed to supply Kyiv with 31 Abrams tanks in a decision announced shortly after Germany agreed to deploy Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.
The German announcement preceded the U.S. announcement of tank provisions, with reports suggesting that Berlin required a similar commitment from Washington before agreeing to a deal.
The provision of U.S. Abrams tanks represent a complete reversal by the Department of Defense. It also represents a shift to heavy offensive weapons, while previous assistance in terms of heavy weapons has been defensive in nature.
Moscow responded to Germany’s announcement that it would provide 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks to Ukraine by warning of dangerous escalation.
“This extremely dangerous decision takes the conflict to a new level of confrontation,” Russia’s Ambassador to Germany Sergei Nechayev said in a statement Wednesday, as reported by The Moscow Times.
U.S. President Joe Biden announced the tank deal, stressing that it did not represent an “offensive threat to Russia”.
While the German tanks are expected to arrive in Ukraine quickly, the U.S. tanks, according to The Moscow Times, will take months to reach the front line due to the procurement process, as well as requiring significant training. Training is also required for the German tanks.
Due to complications in procuring and deploying the American Abrams tanks, the move is being viewed as largely symbolic and intended to appease Germany and win a commitment for Leopard 2 tanks for Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Moscow warned that Western tanks would be destroyed on the Ukraine battlefield.
Russia media is also highlighting what it calls the German Foreign Minister’s declaration of “war” against Russia.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com