by announcing the sending of tanks to kyiv, Joe Biden favors unity with the Europeans

The unity of the allies above all, beyond military assessments: it is this strategic priority that pushed Joe Biden, against the initial advice of the Pentagon, to accept the delivery of Abrams M1 tanks to Ukraine. The American president confirmed on Wednesday January 25 that his country would provide 31 such tanks to kyiv, a number equivalent to a full Ukrainian battalion. But it will take “months, rather than weeks”, according to a senior administration official, before this equipment arrived on the front line. It is likely that they will not even achieve this in 2023. On the other hand, a training program for Ukrainian specialists should start as soon as possible.

The Abrams will be acquired through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative program, rather than simply taken from stock already on hand. This tank is considered a prime asset of the US Army. But its deployment is hardly self-evident. First of all, it requires a specific initiation, both to master its use in a theater of war and to ensure its continuous maintenance. Tanks cannot advance long on their own. They need to be supported at the rear by a supply chain, from maintenance trucks to refueling. The United States will notably provide eight M88 recovery tanks, to accompany the Abrams.

Despite these reservations and a delivery schedule that does not correspond to the urgency of the moment for kyiv, this is a real turnaround, after weeks of purely technical and operational considerations on the Abrams tanks. This new commitment does not constitute a paradigm shift in American military aid – 27 billion dollars since the start of the conflict – but a step up, still unthinkable a few months ago.

Read also: War in Ukraine: after Germany authorized the shipment of Leopard tanks, the United States announces the delivery of Abrams tanks

The White House arbitration, made public on the birthday of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has essentially a political aim. This was to give Germany additional pledges so that Chancellor Olaf Scholz could overcome internal blockages over Leopard tanks – he announced the shipment of fourteen of them earlier today, Wednesday. The Biden administration has shown great skill in the bilateral relationship, by not exerting public pressure on Berlin, silencing any possible irritation and ultimately paying tribute to the “leadership” of the Chancellor, in the words of Joe Biden.

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